UPGRADED at 9: 21 p.m. EDT on 2020-05-01
North Korean state media reported that leader Kim Jong Un checked out a factory north of Pyongyang Friday, in his first reported public appearance in 3 weeks, as reports about his disease that have actually swirled around social media have actually begun permeating into his reclusive nation.
North’s official Korean Central News Company (KCNA) reported that Kim cut the tape at the event marking the conclusion of Sunchon Phosphatic Fertilizer Factory in Sunchon, north of Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news company.
“All the participants broke into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’ extending the greatest glory to the Supreme Leader who has brought about a new change in the development of Juche-based fertilizer industry and has led the grand revolutionary advance for strengthening self-supporting economy to a victory with his outstanding leadership,” stated KCNA.
Yonhap likewise priced quote state radio in the North as stating Kim was accompanied by his sis Kim Yo Jong and other assistants throughout the factory go to.
“Amid the celebratory music, our beloved and respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un appeared at the building completion ceremony and cut the ribbon himself,” the North Korea radio report stated, according to Yonhap.
U.S. President Donald Trump was asked by press reporters at the White House to comment on the KCNA reports on Kim’s reappearance.
“I’d rather not comment on it yet,” stated Trump, including, “We’ll have something to say about it at the appropriate time.”
Reports did not at first bring any images of Kim at the ribbon-cutting event when they were released Friday afternoon, however images were released later on that night.
The 2 state media reports, released early Saturday in North Korea, came as RFA’s sources in the nation stated that unproven report and reports indicating health problems for the 36- year-old Kim were spreading out quickly in North Korean provinces near the border with China.
“These days, rumors about Kim Jong Un being on his deathbed are spreading rapidly among the people in the border area,” a citizen of North Hamgyong province who asked for privacy to speak easily informed RFA’s Korean Service Tuesday.
“They even say that he may have died. According to a story originating from the Chinese side of the border, Kim Jong Un died after he failed to recover from cardiovascular surgery,” the source stated.
The reports originate from speculation after Kim was no place to be seen on the “Day of the Sun”, the North Korean vacation that marks the April 15 birth anniversary of his grandpa, the country’s creator Kim Il Sung.
” Generally in April, in preparation for the Day of the Sun, we arrange a massive event to go to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun [in Pyongyang], where the bodies of Kim Il Sung and [Kim Jong Il] are [laid to rest],” the source stated.
“Kim Jong Un’s go to [to the mausoleum] is greatly promoted [in state media], however this year he did not show up,” the source added.
“The media have remained mum on what Kim Jong Un did instead of attending the event this year, and it’s making everyone curious,” the source added.
Among Kim’s normal responsibilities for the month of April is to release a set of directions on how to manage domestic issues and significant occasions, such as farming problems.
“But since mid-April there have been no instructions from the Supreme Leader,” stated the source.
Beyond North Korea, reports in mass and social media have actually varied from stating he is ill, comatose, or perhaps dead after a messed up surgical treatment for a cardiovascular condition. Other accounts had Kim holed up to prevent the COVID-19 epidemic.
“Not long ago, Chinese media reported that a senior official of the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign liaison department headed to North Korea with a medical team, so residents suspect that Kim Jong Un’s health is in critical condition,” stated the source.
However it is difficult for locals to actually understand the truth about Kim Jong Un’s health status, according to another source who asked for privacy for safety factors, from Ryanggang province.
“We can’t see or hear anything,” the second source informed RFA.
“But most residents have heard stories about the Supreme Leader’s condition, which spread through China and is now becoming the global media’s biggest concern,” the second source stated.
The reports are even spreading out amongst regular federal government authorities in North Korea, who remain in the dark about what is actually going on, the second source stated.
“Even the officials are busy gathering a piece of information here and another piece from there, because there is no way to confirm Kim Jong Un’s actual health condition,” the second source stated.
“If stories about the ‘highest dignity’ are spreading this much, the security department or the party normally tries to strictly control residents,” the second source stated, utilizing an honorific term booked for Kim.
“But the authorities do not even crack down on it these days,” the second source stated.
The second source’s account appears to oppose a description by Jiro Ishimaru of the Japan-based Asia Press of a crackdown by the security department to suppress the reports.
In Ryanggang province, a minimum of, the authorities appear unconcerned with the reports, the source stated
” If the story about the ‘highest dignity’ distributes like this, they would usually hold a series of lecture sessions for locals or have Community Watch System conferences [to discourage their spread], or threaten that those who spread out false stories would be charged with treason,” the second source stated.
“However, no community or Neighborhood Watch Unit meeting has even been held yet.”
“Tales of Kim Jong Un’s condition began to spread first among residents of the border area who often come into contact with Chinese people, but now many people in the inland areas, including in Pyongyang must have heard them by now,” stated the second source.
“The fact that Pyongyang is too quiet and the military is not moving at all despite the spread of such stories is also raising a lot of suspicions,” the second source added.
Reported by Jieun Kim for RFA’s Korean Service. Equated by Leejin Jun. Composed in English by Eugene Whong.
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