Kim Jong Un reappears in public after weeks of health rumours

Kim Jong Un

He appeared at a ceremony at a factory in the city of Sunchon, the North's state news agency said, later releasing photos from the event.

Fanning the rumors further, North Korean media had not provided no report on photo on his public activity, though it carried articles on his routine day schedules such as sending diplomatic letters or sending gifts to honored citizens. His last reported public appearance was April 12, leading experts to speculate that Kim might be gravely ill or dead.

US President Donald Trump appeared to confirm that Mr Kim was alive earlier this week. On that day, the North marks the birthday of his grandfather Kim Il-sung, the country's founder.

The South Korean government also rejected the rumors and said it has not detected any "unusual" signs in North Korea that may suggest a serious problem in leader Kim's health'.

According to KCNA, the 36-year-old supreme leader cut the ribbon at the opening of a fertiliser factory. "We don't have any information to report today, we're watching it closely", Pompeo said on Wednesday, according to a State Department transcript.

I can't tell you whether Kim is dead or alive; we can look to the precedents for how the state propaganda apparatus handled his father and grandfather's deaths and illnesses to surmise that Kim probably is not yet dead.

Kim, whose whereabouts remain unclear since presiding over an April 11 meeting, purportedly "had something wrong healthwise due to either excessive drinking or overwork", a contributor for Seoul-based outlet Daily NK reported Friday.

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It is not rare for Kim to disappear from public view.

But others question whether core members of North Korea's elite, mostly men in their 60s or 70s, would find it hard to accept a young and untested female leader who lacks military credentials.

"Speculation about North Korea and the North Korean leader in particular can get really overheated, (but) we need to approach these things with caution", Mintaro Oba, a former USA diplomat focused on the Koreas, said.

In 2014, Kim vanished from the public eye for almost six weeks and then reappeared with a cane. North Korean media later showed him walking with a cane; South Korean intelligence said he had undergone ankle surgery.