North Korea's Kim reappears after weeks of speculation


Daily NK, a South Korean news outlet run by North Korean defectors, reported in April that Kim was recovering from a cardiovascular procedure, sparking worldwide speculation about his health.

His re-emergence came as a blow to the credibility of some high-profile defectors from the North who had speculated that Kim was suffering from a grave illness or could even be dead. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. State television showed Kim smiling and smoking a cigarette at the opening of a fertiliser factory in the country on Friday.

Multiple bullets from North Korea hit a South Korean guard post inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), prompting the South to broadcast a warning and fire back, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The South Korean official declined to provide reasons for believing that Mr Kim did not undergo surgery, but said speculative reports that he may have had surgery, citing some differences in his leg movements, are not true, Yonhap reported. If Mr. Kim were to die, the leadership upheaval in North Korea that would ensue would potentially create one of the world's most risky and complicated security dilemmas as of right now. It added that it was communicating with North Korea through a military line while staying prepared for further fire.

It wasn't the first time Kim had disappeared from public view for an extended period. He dropped out of sight in 2014, but reappeared more than five weeks later using a walking stick.

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One of the defectors, Thae Yong-ho, was North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain, where he managed secret funds for Kim.

"Comrade Kim Jong-un sent gratitude to exemplary instructors for carrying out their responsibility and role as basic propagandists, which have led workers to implement the party's policies", the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party, said. He hasn't publicly anointed his successor, and rumors about his health triggered worries about the North's political stability and its nuclear program.

North and South Korea began destroying some guard posts and eliminating mines in 2018 in an effort to reduce tensions, but diplomacy has stalled since the breakdown of nuclear talks between Kim and President Trump.

U.S. president Donald Trump said Saturday he was "glad" about Kim's reappearance and about the fact that he is apparently healthy.

Instead, he was absent for the first time since taking power in 2011.