North Korean leader Kim Jong-un first appeared in public on Friday, the country’s state media reported.
The KCNA news agency reported that the North Korean leader cut the ribbon at the opening of a fertilizer factory.
If confirmed independently, it would be his first public appearance in 20 days.
The agency adds that people at the factory “erupted in thunderous yells of hooray” when it appeared.
The appearance – the first since its appearance in state media on April 12 – comes amid speculation about his health.
Kim was accompanied by several senior North Korean officials, including his sister Kim Yo Jong, KCNA added.
What started the speculation?
The rumors about his health began when Kim did not participate in the celebrations of the birth anniversary of the founder of the state Kim Il Sung on April 15.
The anniversary is one of the most important events on the North Korean calendar, and Kim generally celebrates it by visiting the mausoleum where her grandfather lies.
Kim had never missed this event before.
Reports of a deterioration in his health emerged in a report posted on a website run by North Korean defectors.
An anonymous source told the Daily NK that Kim had had cardiovascular problems since August and that “it worsened after repeated visits to Mount Paektu.”
This led to a chain of international media publications about a single-source story.
Then news agencies began to replicate that story until some reports emerged that intelligence agencies in South Korea and the US they were monitoring the situation.
Later, a headline appeared in the US media that the North Korean leader was in critical condition after cardiac surgery.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last Wednesday that US officials “had not seen” Kim recently.
However, a statement by the South Korean government and Chinese intelligence sources, published by the Reuters news agency, said the rumors were not true.