Rumours over Kim's health spiked after he missed a key celebration marking the country's 60th anniversary on September 9. There has been no confirmed sighting since mid-August.

South Korean and US officials suspect that Kim suffered a serious health setback, possibly a stroke, speculations the North has repeatedly denied.

In one of the two wide-angle photos released on Monday Kim was shown standing in front of trees with autumn foliage and a red-and-white banner saying, "Let's dedicate our lives to safeguarding our great leader and comrade Kim and his top revolutionary leaders".

The photos showed Kim posing with soldiers at an unknown location [EPA]
South Korea's unification ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, confirmed the release of the photos but said that it was difficult to draw any conclusions on Kim's health based on the pictures.

"There is a backdrop in the picture, with which we can guess the timing [of when it was taken] and [Kim] also is wearing a parka," Kim Ho-nyeon, a ministry spokesman, told reporters.

On Sunday, Pyongyang released undated photographs showing Kim smiling and looking healthy at what state television said was a football game between two army teams.

The photos, however, failed to answer questions over his health and none showed Kim and scenes of a football match in the same frame.

Some South Korean media outlets also noted that the way Kim is holding his left arm appeared unnatural in some of the images, suggesting it might be a sign he is suffering from paralysis as a result of his reported stroke.

Kim's health is of keen interest because he rules the isolated, nuclear-armed nation with absolute authority and has not publicly named a successor.