North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has ended his month-long media blackout by appearing at a crucial coronavirus meeting.
The despot was photographed for the first time in public since June 8 on Thursday when he appeared at an executive committee meeting regarding pandemic measures.
His government’s work over the last six months to get a hold on the spread of Covid-19 is understood to have been discussed during the politburo meeting.
However, an agenda did not include any mention of recent tensions with South Korea, reports NK News.
“At the meeting, as the first agenda item they reviewed the work of the past 6 months for preventing the malignant contagious disease and discussed an issue on further consolidating the present anti-epidemic situation by enhancing the state emergency anti-epidemic work,” a state media KCNA read-out said.
It comes after the longest-ever disappearance by the reclusive leader, with rumours going into overdrive after he vanished from public sight in April.
Speculation erupted after Kim missed an annual birthday celebration for his late grandfather – Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder – on April 15 before reappearing 21 days later at a fertiliser plant.
There were claims that Kim had coronavirus, that he was in a “vegetative state” and even that he had died and his sister Kim Yo-jong was moving into position to take over as Supreme Leader.
During his absence, a photo went viral claiming to show the leader dead in a coffin, but it was quickly proven to be fake.
He has missed multiple important North Korean state events in recent months, including the fourth anniversary of his own appointment to chairman of the State Affairs Commission this week.
North Korea’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been shrouded in mystery, with no official figures released.
Some reports say hundreds of residents have been quarantined on suspicion of having the virus, but state officials have yet to confirm if the disease has in fact made its way into the country.
Neighbouring South Korea has had one of the most successful responses to Covid-19 in the world with just 282 deaths, but there have been worrying flare-ups in recent days.
The North Korean politburo discussed the “hastening of the ongoing construction of a new hospital in Pyongyang to deal with the pandemic.
Kim has reportedly expressed his satisfaction with how the project is progressing.