North Korea’s Kim makes ‘public appearance’ at FERTILIZER PLANT amid death rumors fueled by Trump’s ‘no comments’
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly made his first public appearance in weeks, at a fertilizer factory north of Pyongyang. The radio report, however, has not entirely dispelled speculations about his death.
A news broadcast by the North Korean state radio said that Kim cut the ribbon on a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, in South Phyongan Province, on Friday. He was accompanied by his sister Kim Yo-jong and several other officials.
Kim Jong Un’s reappearance led the 6am news on Korean Central Radio. Here’s the best recording I got (with black video because Twitter won’t let me upload audio only) pic.twitter.com/LNYWmywgvd
— Martyn Williams (@martyn_williams) May 1, 2020
The Sunchon event was also reported by the state news agency KCNA, and by South Korea’s news agency Yonhap, who said it “contradicted rumors” about Kim’s health.
Kim last appeared in public on April 12, when the ruling party daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun showed him chairing the Politburo meeting. Just three days later, on April 15, he was nowhere to be seen at the celebrations of the 108th birthday of North Korea’s first ruler and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung.
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This prompted a number of US media outlets to speculate that Kim might have died, and the theories surrounding his absence began to proliferate, from heart surgery botched by elite Chinese doctors to Covid-19 coronavirus and everything in between.
US President Donald Trump further fueled the speculation with cryptic remarks that he has “a very good idea” about Kim’s condition but “can’t talk about it,” at a press conference earlier this week, followed by a claim that Kim couldn’t have possibly made a public statement over the weekend because “no one knows where he is.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Trump said on Friday, when asked if he had any updates about Kim’s condition.
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On Sunday, a senior South Korean official said his government believed Kim was “alive and well” and said that satellite photos showed the leader’s special train in the coastal town of Wonsan – on the other side of the peninsula from both Pyongyang and Sunchon.
According to KCNA, those attending the event at the fertilizer factory “burst into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’ for the Supreme Leader who is commanding the all-people general march for accomplishing the great cause of prosperity.”
While this may go far to quell speculation about Kim’s health, the notable absence of photos or video from the event is bound to keep suspicions alive about what might be actually happening in North Korea.
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Though practicing its own brand of Communism called Juche, North Korea has been ruled by a de facto dynasty since its founding. Kim Jong-un is believed to be 36, and has no designated successor, so the mere possibility of his death was enough to trigger speculation about a North Korea without a Kim at its helm.
Following its liberation from decades of Japanese rule, Korea was partitioned at the end of WWII. It has been divided by an armistice line since 1953, which froze a civil war that ended up sucking in both the US and China.
The US has led the way in declaring North Korea a “rogue nation” and imposing strangling UN sanctions against Pyongyang over its development of nuclear weapons. Even after opening the possibility of peace with a historic meeting with Kim in 2018, US President Donald Trump has refused to ease or lift the sanctions, insisting that North Korea must unilaterally disarm first.
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