North Korean state media reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a public appearance after weeks of speculation about his health.
Business Insider could not independently confirm this report, and no photos of the event were provided.
North Korean state news agency KCNA reported early Saturday local time that Kim visited a fertilizer plant located north of the capital, Pyongyang — his first public appearance since April 11. South Korean-based Yonhap News Agency was the first to report that he had been sighted.
The North Korean leader's young sister, Kim Yo Jong, reportedly joined her brother on the visit to the fertilizer plant. She's the most powerful woman in North Korea, and it's been speculated she would take over as leader of the rogue state in the event of her brother's demise.
Kim missed the birth anniversary celebrations of his grandfather, state founder Kim Il Sung, on April 15, prompting rumors about the North Korean leader's health. Reports began to circulate that he was in grave condition while recovering from cardiovascular surgery, but South Korean officials refuted the account.
South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul recently suggested that concern over the coronavirus pandemic was likely to blame for Kim's lack of public appearances.
"He had never missed the anniversary for Kim Il Sung's birthday since he took power, but many anniversary events including celebrations and a banquet had been cancelled because of coronavirus concerns," the minister told a parliamentary hearing, per a Reuters report from Tuesday.
Rumors have also circulated that Kim might be dead, but US and South Korean intelligence services expressed skepticism over such reports, the Washington Post reported in late April.
And recent satellite images from 38 North, a Washington-based North Korean monitoring project, showed Kim's train had traveled to the coastal resort of Wonsan, suggesting the North Korean leader was staying in the area. "We understand that Chairman Kim Jong Un has been in Wonsan this week," a South Korean intelligence official told the Post.
President Donald Trump, who has met with Kim several times in a failed effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, declined to comment on the North Korean leader's health on Friday.
"I don't want to talk about it," Trump told reporters when asked about Kim before departing for Camp David. "We'll have something to say about it at the appropriate time."