Kim Jong-un reappears after more than a month amid ill health rumours

·2-min read
This undated photo provided on  16 November 2021 by the North Korean government. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects the construction site of Samjiyon city  (KCNA via KNS)
This undated photo provided on 16 November 2021 by the North Korean government. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects the construction site of Samjiyon city (KCNA via KNS)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made his first public appearance on Tuesday after the longest absence in seven years from public glare, sparking rumours of ill health.

He was photographed visiting the construction site of a city being built near the area bordering China. Mr Kim also visited a sacred mountain situated near Mount Paektu which is historically important to his family, according to reports by the state media.

Since 2018, Mr Kim has made multiple visits to this mountain. The state media released undated photos of the leader, flanked by several state officials, during his visit.

North Korea is transforming the town of Samjiyon in its northern alpine region called “socialist utopia” and building it up as a massive economic hub. The revamped town will have new residential apartments, hotels, ski resort, medical facilities, commercial and cultural centres.

The North Korean leader was last seen on 12 October, after which state media reports speculated him to be unwell, amid an increased series of breaks Mr Kim has taken in the last few years.

According to South Korea’s intelligence agency in October, he had no health issues.

Washington-based watchdog website NK News, reported that satellite imagery showed a spike in activities around Mr Kim’s east coast beach house and a lakeside mansion in Pyongyang, where he is often reported to go during episodes of illness.

The visuals also show a leisure boat moving in the waters outside Mr Kim’s beach mansion late last month.

In just 2021 alone, the North Korean chief has taken eight breaks from public engagements spanning at least 14 days.

After reports of Mr Kim’s cardiovascular condition emerged last year, underlining his poor health, the leader went missing from public scrutiny for roughly three weeks. After returning, observers noted a mark on his arm and suggested he could have undergone a procedure.

Since then, he seems to have revitalised his health and also shed around 20 kgs (44 pounds). He even appeared in a noticeably leaner frame and tighter chin-line in June this year.

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