North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un has made his first public appearance in five weeks, the country's official news agency reports, ending an absence that fueled global speculation that something was amiss with the country's most powerful person. Resuming what had been a regular practice before he stopped showing up in media reports for 40 days, Kim "gave field guidance" at the newly built Wisong Scientists Residential District, according to a dispatch from the Korean Central News Agency released in the early morning hours. The agency didn't say when the visit happened, but added that Kim made another visit the same day to a newly built natural energy institute.
These kinds of inspection tours had been typical of Kim, thought to be 31 and the third generation of his family to rule, until he began laying low after last appearing Sept. 3 at a concert. As the weeks passed, the apparent vanishing act of a man long caricatured in foreign media as an all-powerful overlord sitting on a nuclear arsenal while his people starved proved endlessly fascinating. Kim was, by turns, reported to be suffering from gout, from diabetes, from a brain hemorrhage, from a heart ailment, or an ankle problem. There were rumors of coups and his sisters running North Korea. The KCNA report makes no mention of Kim's health, only detailing his routine comments about the construction projects.