Kim Jong Un‘s first public appearance in weeks after rumors suggesting that the North Korean leader died has sparked a new round of conspiracy theories claiming that the man seen at a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony could actually be a body double.
As the New York Post reported, North Korea’s state-run media published images this weekend showing the country’s leader presiding over the opening of a new fertilizer plant in Suncheon, South Pyongan Province. It was the first time in nearly three weeks that Kim had been seen in public. But the pictures of the smiling and healthy-looking 36-year-old seemed off to many observers, who noted that North Korea is famous for using body double stand-ins for Kim at some public events.
According to the New York Post, some sharp-eyed observers believed they saw discrepancies in Kim’s facial, hairline, and dental features compared to pictures of him from past appearances. One of those pointing out the apparent differences was human rights activist Jennifer Zeng, who noticed the seemingly different features on the man seen in photos from this weekend’s event in a viral tweet. She joined others in sharing images of Kim from past events compared to Sunday, which they saw as being clearly different.
“The chipped incisor is a definite giveaway it’s not Kim Jong Un,” one observer tweeted. “So why a body double? If he’s dead why not just announce it and crown his successor?”
There had already been rumors that the pictures of Kim from Saturday’s event showed evidence of a recent surgical procedure. As The Inquisitr noted, many people pointed out what appeared to be needle marks on this wrist. An American medical expert told the New York Post was the sign of a recent cardiovascular procedure, specifically a radial artery puncture.
Leading up to Saturday’s appearance, there had been growing rumors that Kim had either fallen into a vegetative state or died following a botched heart procedure. The rumors were disputed by some world leaders, including President Donald Trump, who said that he believed the reports of his death were generated using older or inaccurate information. But the mystery surrounding Kim’s condition and whereabouts had grown even larger due to North Korea’s tight-lipped approach to the matter and how it didn’t respond to the reports of his death.
Kim had initially sparked speculation after missing an April 15 ceremony marking the birthday of his late grandfather, the country’s founding father. He also missed a military exercise that accompanied the ceremony, which he is rarely known to miss.