Seoul, Jul 8 (efe-epa).- The leader of North Korea has paid tribute to his grandfather by visiting the mausoleum where his embalmed remains lie in Pyongyang at a time marked by few public appearances and the current tension with Seoul and Washington.
Kim Jong-un visited Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder who died on July 8, 1994, according to the state KCNA news outlet.
The visit possibly took place on early Wednesday morning, although KCNA as usual did not specify when the event happened.
Kim was accompanied by Choe Ryong-hae, the second most powerful figure in the regime and member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s Central Committee, Premier Kim Jae-ryong, and his predecessor Pak Pong-ju, current vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission, according to KCNA, which also published a photo.
The image also shows Kim Yo-jong, the leader’s younger sister, located in the third row of officers who formed the main party along with Kim Jong-un.
The visit to Kamsusan, where the embalmed body of Kim’s father Kim Jong-il also lies, was one of the rare public appearances for the leader in the last few months.
Kim did not visit Kumsusan on Apr. 15, the date of his grandfather’s birthday, known as the Day of the Sun.
These prolonged absences, which occur in a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, have sparked rumors and speculation about his health.
Kim’s last public appearance took place on July 2 during a Politburo meeting where he asked for a review of prevention measures against the novel coronavirus. He made only seven public appearances, published by state media, in the second quarter of the year, marking a record low since he came to power.
The leader’s visit to the mausoleum comes at a time of renewed tension with Seoul, with which Pyongyang recently cut all communication and blew up the inter-Korean liaison office on its territory after accusing the South of allowing activists to send balloons with anti-regime propaganda across the border.
North Korea has also said that it feels no need to resume denuclearization talks with the United States.
US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun is visiting Seoul to discuss the situation in the region and denuclearization talks with the North, which have been stalled since the failed Hanoi Summit last year. EFE-EPA