Kim Jong Un has not been pictured in public for three weeks, sparking fresh rumours regarding his health.
The North Korean leader was last seen at a public engagement on Sunday, June 7 when he took part in the 13th Political Bureau meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
The images of the event were released by the state, although there is no way to verify if they were taken when they claim.
It’s the second length absence by the secretive leader this year, with a previous lengthy disappearance during the coronavirus pandemic leading to claims he had ‘died’.
Suspicions began when Kim failed to attend the annual birthday celebrations for the founder of North Korea, his grandfather Kim Il-sung on Wednesday, April 15.
It was thought the leader was recovering from an operation on his heart, although sources from inside the secretive land say the surgery went wrong and he did not recover.
One report even suggested he was in a “vegetative state” following the operation.
Some have suggested Kim was simply absent for a period of post-plastic surgery rehab.
The 36-year-old, who shares a love of basketball with NBA pal Dennis Rodman, is said to lead an unhealthy lifestyle.
Speaking about rumours about Kim’s demise last month Mr Rodman said: “I do have communications with North Korea, but I can say this though – if you see his sister on TV, running the country, now you know something is wrong, that’s all I’m going give you.”
It is thought Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, will be his successor in the event of his death.
She has ascended through the ranks of the communist Workers’ Party of Korea and stepped in for her brother once before due to ill health in October 2014, providing a close supporting role ever since.
Speaking to the New York Post about her, Mr Rodman added: “His sister was a sweetheart.
“I’ve been to dinner with dignitaries there that were reported to be dead here.
“I don’t believe North Korean news until I hear it from their side.
“I think the fact that they keep to themselves, in many ways, gives the media the ability to run with rumors at times.”