North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un has been seen in public for the first time in more than five weeks, scotching rumours of a coup. State media said early on Tuesday, local time that Jong-Un visited a residential district and a scientific establishment.
The failure of Jong-Un to appear on television since 3 September has led to a mass of speculation about what could have happened to the 31-year-old. Most North Korea watchers believed the leader’s absence from the public eye was because he was suffering from illness. But others suspected power struggles at the heart of one of the most secretive regimes in the world was the explanation.
The report from the official KCNA news agency did not touch on the leader’s prolonged absence from public view. His last public appearance was to attend a concert with his wife. Since then he has missed a key political anniversary and a recent session of the country’s parliament.
The report – typical of the way the state media discusses Jong-Un’s activities – said he “gave field guidance” to workers at a new facility called Wisong Scientists Residential District.
It added that he also visited the newly-built Natural Energy Institute of the State Academy of Sciences. It is not known on which day the visit was made. Jong-Un was quoted as saying: “Our scientists are patriots who are devoting all their lives to building a rich and powerful nation.”
Among the conditions he has been rumoured to be suffering from are gout, obesity, a pulled tendon and fractured ankles. His country’s state news agency admitted he was suffering “discomfort” but has not elaborated.