After remaining missing from public view for almost a month and sparking speculation over his health, North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un on Monday made his first public appearance. Mr Kim presided over his ruling Workers' Party's Central Military Commission meeting and discussed the major military and political tasks for 2023. He reappeared in public after more than 36 days, on the eve of North Korea's military parade.
Citing the country's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), The Independent reported that Monday's meeting was attended by Mr Kim and his top military brass. They discussed organisational changes to "fundamentally improve and strengthen" military affairs, without specifying what the changes were. Mr Kim even ordered his military to perfect the preparedness for war and display "matchless military strength".
During the meeting, the military branch responsible for nuclear missiles was also renamed to "Missile General Bureau". As per the outlet, it was the first-ever mention of the branch in state media.
Images released by KCNA revealed new flags for all Korean People's Army (KPA) branches, including the Missile General Bureau. It featured an icon of the nation's largest nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile, Hwasong 17.
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According to The Independent, in the meeting, the commission also discussed a series of tasks aimed to bring "great change" in the military, including "constantly expanding and intensifying the operation and combat drills" and "more strictly perfecting the preparedness for war".
Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un reappeared in public ahead of a widely expected military parade in Pyongyang, beginning on Tuesday night or Wednesday to mark the historic 75th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army.
He had sparked speculations about his health after he skipped his third Politburo meeting on Sunday. This was the second-longest break the North Korean leader had taken. The first one was in 2014 when he vanished from the public eye for 40 days before reappearing with a cane.