North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected a drill by fighter pilots, state-run media said Sunday, in his first military-related appearance after a long absence from the public eye.
Kim also met the country’s gold medalists in the Incheon Asian Games and the World Championships, both held recently, and their coaches, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a separate dispatch.
As usual, the KCNA did not clarify the dates and exact locations of Kim’s latest inspection tours.
The KCNA said he guided a takeoff and landing drill by fighter pilots of the Korean People’s Army Air and Anti-Air Force Units
1017 and 458.
Hours later, the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling party, released several photos of Kim inspecting the military exercise and meeting with athletes. Kim was pictured using a walking stick, as in other recent appearances.
Praising the pilots “for their excellent piloting and displaying a mastery of the art of aviation,” Kim called for the thorough preparation of the airmen equipped to wage modern warfare, the media said.
During the meeting with athletes, Kim congratulated them on their successes, shaking hands with the competitors and coaches one by one, it said. Kim was accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju.
“The spectacular successes achieved recently were great victories, won by waging struggles to protect the high dignity of the Korean people,” Kim was quoted as telling the participants.
The leader then took photos with the athletes and hosted a banquet for them, the KCNA said.
The events were the third and fourth known public appearances by Kim since he reemerged from a 40-day absence from the public eye.
The latest military inspection marks his first military-related appearance since his disappearance.
The 31-year-old Kim had not appeared in public since attending a concert with his wife in Pyongyang on Sept. 3, missing an important political anniversary on Friday as well as a recent session of the country’s parliament.
Kim’s absence from public view, the longest since he inherited power after his father’s death in December 2011, had fueled speculation about his health and grip on power.
Silencing such rumors, however, the KCNA reported on Tuesday that Kim gave “field guidance” at a newly built apartment complex in Pyongyang for nuclear scientists.
It released several photos of Kim, including some of him walking and sitting with a cane for support, backing up reports that his absence was the result of a leg injury.
On Friday, the news agency said Kim made an inspection tour of a new apartment complex for educators at the Kim Chaek University of Technology in Pyongyang. (Yonhap)
Source : The Korea Herald