North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has been seen in public for the first time since disappearing for almost a month, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. According to the outlet, he attended the first meeting of the political bureau of the governing party.
KCNA writes that Kim Jong-un analysed "the execution of major policy tasks in different fields for the first half of the year". The leader stressed the importance of a state campaign to improve the economy and people’s living.
According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, prior to the meeting, Kim Jong-un was last seen in public on 6 May, when he posed for a photograph with North Korean servicemen and their families. The outlet writes that this period of absence was the longest in 2021.
COVID-19 Precautions and Takeover of Power
Experts say that Kim Jong-un’s disappearance may have had to do with coronavirus restrictions. It is unclear what the situation with COVID-19 is in the secretive state, which as of now hasn’t reported a single case. In April, Pyongyang announced that it would skip the Summer Olympics in Tokyo due to concerns about the pandemic.
Kim Jong-un’s prolonged periods of disappearance have prompted speculation about his health and political infighting. Last year, Western and South Korean media speculated that he was gravely ill, close to a vegetative state, or had even died. Other reports claimed that he had been deposed in a coup by his sister Kim Yo-jong, who in recent years has assumed senior positions in the government.