Kim Jong-un Unwell

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was spotted limping slightly as he attended a ceremony at a stadium in Pyongyang on Tuesday marking the 20th anniversary of the death of nation founder Kim Il-sung.

Kim's face appeared swollen and he displayed a slight limp in his right leg during the ceremony, which was broadcast live on North Korean state TV. He wore a gloomy expression throughout and applauded feebly.

He was still limping again when he paid a midnight visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the embalmed bodies of Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il are on display.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pays a visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on Tuesday to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of nation founder Kim Il-sung. /Rodong Sinmun North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pays a visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on Tuesday to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of nation founder Kim Il-sung. /Rodong Sinmun

A government official here speculated that Kim Jong-un sprained his ankle or has developed back or knee problems due to his obesity after a grueling round of field visits to military bases along the eastern coast since mid-June."

But Park Hyung-joong at the Korea Institute for National Unification said, "If there was a really serious problem, the scenes wouldn’t have been shown."

Meanwhile, Kim Yang-gon, who heads the Workers Party's United Front Department which deals with inter-Korean matters, was again not seen at Tuesday's event, fueling rumors that he has been fired.

One source said, "He may just be suffering from health problems due to old age or he may have fallen from favor after the National Defense Commission assumed control of inter-Korean affairs."

Also at the ceremony were top brass and officials including Kim Yong-nam, the perennial president of the Supreme People's Assembly, Prime Minister Pak Pong-ju, and Hwang Pyong-so, a deputy chief of the Workers Party's Organization and Guidance Department.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 09, 2014 10:32 KST