Kim Jong-un seen in new photos
New photographs have been released of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, wearing the same bright white jacket as in similar footage released last week and in 2019, amid international speculation his health has significantly deteriorated.
The latest pictures of the 36-year-old dictator were "made available by a third party", being the state-owned Korea Central News Agency, to respected news agency Agence France-Presse.
In a disclaimer, AFP said it "cannot independently verify the authenticity, location, date and content" of the images, said to have been taken on Tuesday, August 25 and supplied on Wednesday of him holding his third high-level political conference in as many weeks.
The pictures were also published in the North Korean Rodong Sinmun newspaper, considered the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party.
KCNA reported Kim presided over the meeting on Tuesday and assessed "defects in the state emergency anti-epidemic work for checking the inroads of the malignant virus".
The agency said he addressed "some shortcomings" in the preventive efforts and called for stronger measures to eliminate "defects".
North Korea has not officially acknowledged a single case of COVID-19 despite its emergence in neighbouring China.
Last month Pyongyang imposed a lockdown on the city of Kaesong, close to the border with the South, claiming a defector who had returned was suspected of carrying the virus.
The restrictions were lifted earlier this month and the infection was never confirmed.
"Not a single person has been infected with novel coronavirus so far in our country," the Rodong Sinmum reportedly stated in late July.
On August 5, World Health Organization representative for North Korea Dr Edwin Salvador told Reuters: "The person was tested for COVID-19, but test results were inconclusive."
He said authorities quarantined more than 3635 primary and secondary contacts of the man.
According to the WHO's latest COVID-19 situation report, for August 16, North Korea had still not reported any virus cases.
By that date, The Republic of Korea (South Korea) had reported 15,318 cases and 305 deaths.
Kim appeared in good health on North Korean TV last week, seated in front of the same red backdrop with the same hairstyle as in December.
KCNA reported: "The 6th Plenary meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea was held at the office building of the Central Committee of the Party, the supreme general staff of the Korean revolution, on August 19, Juche 109 (2020)."
"The respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un presided over the meeting and made a historic speech," the agency said.
In his most recent address, without his glasses as pictured on the other two occasions, Kim also reportedly called for readiness against Typhoon Bavi forecast to hit the country early on Thursday.
There have been days of heavy rain across parts of North Korea, which is vulnerable to flooding as many mountains and hills have long been stripped of vegetation, allowing water to flow downhill unchecked.
Kim laid out tasks for various departments, saying thoroughly preventing casualties and crop damage was "crucial", KCNA reported.
Kim's comments come amid conjecture over his condition after South Korea's spy agency said he had delegated some authority to his sister Kim Yo Jong to relieve his "governance stress".
Chang Song-min, a former aide to late-South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, recently alleged that Kim was "in a coma".
"I assess him to be in a coma, but his life has not ended," he was reported as saying in South Korean media on August 20, just a day after the images of the meeting in Pyongyang last week were released.
He noted the leader's younger sister Kim Yo-jong, who is just 33, could be poised to take the leadership in his absence.
"A complete succession structure has not been formed, so Kim Yo-jong is being brought to the fore as the vacuum cannot be maintained for a prolonged period," Mr Chang said.
In April this year, Kim went missing from public view for nearly three weeks, prompting widespread questions over his condition.
Originally published as Kim Jong-un seen in new photos