North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang at midnight Thursday. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
July 8 (UPI) -- A visibly thinner Kim Jong Un visited the tomb of his biological grandfather Kim Il Sung, according to state media Thursday, the 27th death anniversary of the founding leader of North Korea.
The visit came a day after false rumors about an alleged blockade of Pyongyang and Kim's health circulated among retail investors in South Korea.
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA reported Thursday Kim paid his respects at Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at midnight.
"At the halls where Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state the General Secretary made a bow of best wishes to the President and the Chairman who performed undying feats before the country," state media said.
KCNA included photos of Kim at the front of the delegation, with his closest aides Choe Ryong Hae, Premier Kim Dok Hun, and First Party Secretary Jo Yong Won by his side.
North Korean officials Ri Pyong Chol and Pak Jong Chon, who were seen not taking part in a voting process at a Politburo meeting of the Workers' Party, were standing in the third and second rows respectively.
Ri's position indicates he may have been demoted. According to South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo Thursday, Ri was confirmed as the chief person responsible for what Kim described last week as a "grave incident" in connection to COVID-19. Ri was a rising star in the North Korean bureaucracy last year, when he was identified as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.
Choe Sang Gon, the director of North Korea's science and education department, was not present at the memorial Thursday.
The North Korean leader appeared in public a day after rumors spread on online bulletin boards about the health of Kim in the South, South Korean paper Chosun Ilbo reported Thursday.
South Korea's main KOSPI index closed down 0.6% from the previous day, according to the report.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service said Thursday Kim may have dropped anywhere from 20 to 40 pounds, reports said.