North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said on Friday that Kim Jong Un had appeared in public to celebrate the completion of a fertilizer plant, in what would be his first public appearance in 20 days. Initially, the news alert came with no photos or other proof that the 36-year-old leader is alive, but hours later, the agency circulated photos of a smiling Kim and his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, including one in which Kim Jong Un ceremoniously cut a red ribbon. The images have not been independently verified. Rumors of Kim’s death have swirled in recent days after he missed the anniversary celebrations of state founder Kim Il Sung’s birth on April 15, a major holiday in North Korea. Speculation intensified further when Reuters reported last Saturday that a group of doctors had left China for Pyongyang. However, an intelligence source told Reuters Friday that U.S. agencies believe Kim is still alive and in power.
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