Kim Jong-un missing from public view

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Kim Jong-un missing from public view

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has not made a public appearance for weeks, according to South Korean officials and analysts - a situation that has fueled speculation among outside observers over his whereabouts.

The young strongman attended a concert by the Moranbong Band with his wife on Sept. 3, North Korean media reported, though since then, none of his activities have been publicized. North Korea analysts said it is rare for the North to keep silent about his personal affairs for so long. Kim is the third son of late leader Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011, and was often featured in state media after he took office.

Observers said it is also unusual that Kim seems to have disappeared during the Incheon Asian Games, particularly because he invested so much in sending the country’s national team to the event. Last week, he was also a no-show for an assembly hosted by the Kim Il-sung Socialist Youth League, which initially raised questions. The league is the main youth organization of the North and directly supervised by the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party.

“Kim even attended lower-level groups’ events, but he only sent a letter to the Kim Il-sung Socialist Youth League this time,” said a South Korean government official. “It means there is something going on with him.”

Analysts believe it’s possible that the young leader may have a health issue. Footage from a North Korean television broadcast last month showed that Kim had been walking with a slight limp in July and August.

“We have intelligence that he was wounded during a sporting activity,” another official said. “We are verifying the information.”


BY CHUNG YEONG-GYO [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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