People watch a broadcast of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 21. Photo: Ung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images
North Korean state media claimed on Friday that Kim Jong-un made a public appearance at a fertilizer factory in Suncheon, following two weeks of speculation about the dictator's health and whereabouts.
Where it stands: Kim's appearance has not been independently verified. North Korea state media released photos, shared by South Korean Yonhap news, allegedly of the dictator in Suncheon on Friday. His last public appearance was on April 11.
The backstory: The rumors began after Kim missed North Korea’s most important annual ceremony on April 15, marking the birthday of his grandfather and the regime’s founder, Kim Il-sung.
- Then came a smattering of uncorroborated reports that Kim was ill or even dead, perhaps following emergency heart surgery.
- South Korea and China downplayed the reports, but the Trump administration said it was monitoring them and Trump himself hinted he had intelligence about Kim's condition.
The bottom line: This is a clear rebuttal from the regime of claims Kim is in grave danger. But the doubts won't fully be quelled without more evidence.
Go deeper: What to make of Kim Jong-un's disappearance