North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made his first public appearance in 20 days amid rumours about his health, state media said.
The Korean Central News Agency said that he attended a ceremony marking the completion of a fertiliser factory in Suncheon, near the capital Pyongyang, with other senior officials including his sister Kim Yo Jong.
Kim had been last seen during a ruling party meeting on April 11 to discuss coronavirus prevention.
Speculation about his health swirled after he missed the April 15 celebration of the birthday of his late grandfather and state founder, Kim Il Sung, the country’s most important holiday.
South Korea’s government had downplayed rumours and unconfirmed reports that Kim was in poor health following a medical procedure, saying it had detected no unusual activity in the North.
The office of President Moon Jae-in said it detected no unusual signs in North Korea or any emergency reaction by the country’s ruling party, military and cabinet. It said it believed Kim was still managing state affairs but staying at an unspecified location outside Pyongyang.
Without publishing images, state media reported that Kim has been carrying out routine activities outside public view, such as sending greetings to the leaders of Syria, Cuba and South Africa and expressing gratitude to workers building tourist facilities in the coastal town of Wonsan, where some speculated he was staying.
It was not immediately clear what caused Kim’s absence in recent weeks.
In 2014, Kim vanished from the public eye for nearly six weeks and then reappeared with a cane. South Korea’s spy agency said he had a cyst removed from his ankle.