October 18, 2016 11:28
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was nowhere to be seen at the Workers Party's anniversary on Oct. 10 and has not been seen in public in more than 10 days.
The last time Kim appeared in the state media was on Oct. 7 when he visited a souvenir factory in Pyongyang. His disappearance raises suspicions that he is in bad health.
This would have been his first big party anniversary since he officially became chairman in May, and the usual protocol would have been to visit the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which houses the embalmed corpses of his father and grandfather.
Kim also failed to show up at a ceremony on Monday marking the 70th anniversary of an anti-imperialist group formed by Kim Il-sung in 1926 that is promoted as forming the roots of the Workers Party.
The last time North Korea's state-run TV aired footage of Kim was on Sept. 10, and that was a montage of Kim's public appearances in July and August. The same footage was ominously shown again on Oct. 3.
Kim also disappeared from public view for 46 days in the fall of 2014, apparently because he suffered from gout or arthritis, which flare up when temperatures dip.
Intelligence officials here said at the time that Kim had also had surgery to remove a cyst on his right ankle and was recovering.
Kim, who weighs an estimated 130 kg, is a voracious eater and drinker.
Kim has yet to visit North Hamgyong Province, which was hit hard by heavy flooding this summer.
"There were rumors that Kim was involved in a traffic accident while driving his own car, but nothing has been confirmed," a government source here said. "But considering how tightly information is controlled in the North, we are closely monitoring Kim's whereabouts."
There are also views that Kim went into hiding during large-scale joint military drills between South Korea and the U.S. earlier this month.
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