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North Korea: Kim Jong-un Appears In Public For The First Time In Three Weeks

Kim Jong-un participated in the inauguration of a fertilizer factory on Friday, May 1, said the KCNA news agency, the official media announcing the first public appearance of the North Korean leader after weeks of rumours on his health

“Supreme leader Kim Jong-un cuts the ribbon for the inauguration of the Sunchon phosphate fertilizer plant,” said a KCNA dispatch cited by AFP. He ” attended the ceremony “, and ” all the participants threw hurray! When it appeared, she added. Kim also visited the factory, and was ” briefed on the production process,” KCNA said.

The North Korean leader has not appeared in public since he chaired a Politburo meeting on April 11. The next day, official media claimed that he was inspecting fighter jets at a military base.

Questions about Kim Jong-un’s state of health have multiplied since his absence noted at the April 15 celebrations. This day is the most important on the North Korean political calendar because the whole country commemorates the birth of the founder of the regime, Kim Il-sung, his grandfather.

Rumours

Speculation about the health of Kim Jong-un went viral on April 21 from the Daily NK, an online media run mainly by defected North Koreans. Citing unidentified sources inside the country,

The platform said that Kim Jong-un, about 35 years old, was in a worrying state, suffering in addition to his smoking, obesity and overwork. The American chain CNN had then reported that the United States was monitoring reports that he was in danger of death after an operation.

Minimizing the rumours, South Korea’s special adviser to national security Moon Jae-in said on April 26 that Kim Jong-un was ” alive and well “. According to this advisor, Moon Chung-in, the leader had been in Wonsan, a seaside resort on the east coast of North Korea, since April 13.

The state of health of the North Korean leader is an extremely well-kept state secret, in a country known to be opaque to foreigners, and where press freedom does not exist. In 2011, it took two days after Kim Jong-il’s death for the information to come out of the very closed circle of dignitaries in Pyongyang.

In 2014, his son and successor Kim Jong-un disappeared from traffic for almost six weeks, then reappeared with a cane. After several days, the South Korean intelligence services assured him that he had undergone surgery to remove a cyst on his ankle.

The health of the manager, a fundamental point in authoritarian rule

For Antoine Bondaz, director of the Korea program at the Foundation for Strategic Research, “the question of the leader’s health is fundamental in an authoritarian regime like North Korea where leadership rests on a person. This is the case of Kim Jong-un. In addition, North Korea being a nuclear-weapon state today, the question of continuity in terms of the country’s leadership is extremely important. ”

“Asking questions about inheritance is very important for better planning, or trying to predict and prepare for the future of North Korea in the event of the incapacity or death of a leader,” says Antoine. Bondaz. And this also makes it possible to make the general public better understand the functioning of the North Korean regime, and in particular the vagueness and opacity that the North Korean regime has maintained recently. “

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