North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance in more than a month, according to state media. Kim had not been seen in public since he attended a Moranbong Band concert at Pyongyang's Mansudae Art Theatre with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, Sept. 3, which had raised concerns about his health and his ability to maintain power over the country.
Kim's appearance was reported by the state-run media outlet KCNA early Tuesday, local time, but could not immediately be verified, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
"We have seen these breaking reports but have nothing for you on their authenticity at this time," Ventrell said, according to CNN.
The North Korean leader reportedly made a public appearance at the country's Natural Energy Institute of the State Academy of Sciences and offered "field guidance" on the recently constructed Wisong Scientists Residential District, CNN quoted KCNA as saying, though Reuters added the network did not say on what date the visit occurred.
"Our scientists are patriots who are devoting all their lives to building a rich and powerful nation," KCNA quoted Kim as saying, according to Reuters.
Speculation about whether a coup was on the horizon in North Korea had grown rampant in recent weeks. There were rumors Kim's sister had taken charge and swirling questions about whether Kim's health was failing though North Korea's ambassador to London told BBC News Sunday the leader was healthy.
Not everyone bought the storyline immediately, however, and some Twitter users expressed skepticism about the reports:
North Korean news agency says Kim Jong Un appears in public ... but doesn't actually show him appear in public.
— Stephanie Sigafoos (@ssigafoos) October 13, 2014
We didn't find the plane that went down but CNN appear to have found Piggy Kim Jong-un.
— Mark Twomey (@Storagezilla) October 13, 2014