RUMOURS about Kim Jong-un’s poor health have been quashed after the North Korea leader was pictured inspecting a cornfield.
Last week, a South Korean diplomat claimed the dictator, 36, was in a “coma” following persistent reports about him being gravely ill.
However the secretive state has released images purporting to show Kim yesterday visiting a field damaged by a typhoon in the South Hwanghae province of the country.
Yet, like any pictures released by the rogue kingdom, western news outlets are unable to independently verify when they were taken.
Kim has rarely been seen in public this year, with rumours circulating in April that he was in a “vegetative state” following a botched heart op.
There have also been reports that his low profile this year is down to Kim shielding himself during the worldwide outbreak of Covid-19.
The cornfield pictures come after Kim was seen smoking a cigarette as he discussed the health crisis posed by coronavirus.
In pictures released by North Korean state media on Wednesday, the despot was seen chairing a meeting of the politburo of the Workers Party.
The meeting was reportedly called amid concerns about the impact of the Covid-19 as well as Typhoon Bavi which battered the rogue state his week.
Despite the known impact of the coronavirus on the respiratory system, pictures from the meeting show Kim holding a half-smoked cigarette.
Kim has also long been significantly overweight, another risk factor for anyone who contracts the virus.
Speculation about his health comes amid reports that North Korea handed over some powers to the dictator’s sister Kim Yo-jong, 33.
This week, South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) , reported that Kim will gradually transfer authority to his sister “to ease stress”, despite his young age.
However, the agency said the ruthless leader will still “exert absolute power” from behind the scenes while insisting the move was not linked to the tyrant’s health.
Kim’s sister is said to be one of his most trusted confidantes and has masterminded his public image.
The 33-year-old, who was educated in Europe like her brother, is believed to behind the renewed aggressive approach to neighbour South Korea.
Daily NK reported sources inside the secretive state have claimed she is now attempting to secure her position within the regime by taking on the South.
Her tyrannical brother reportedly wants to ensure she has enough support to take over as a type of queen-regent should he die before his 12-year-old son comes of age.
Yo-jong reportedly needs to win some “revolutionary achievements” to get the support in North Korea’s highly traditional ruling class.
A source said: “She can’t rule the country from the military like her brother, so she is expanding her authority through the Propaganda and Agitation Department, just like her father Kim Jong-il.”