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Gout, sporting injury or just resting - some of the theories behind Kim Jong-un's recent low profile

North Korea’s leader hasn’t been seen in public since 3 September.

A portrait of Kim Jong-un at a rally in South Korea last year.
A portrait of Kim Jong-un at a rally in South Korea last year.
Image: Ahn Young-joon

QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN raised about the whereabouts of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

There has been speculation about Jong-un’s health after he failed to appear at a parliamentary meeting yesterday.

His last public appearance was at a concert he attended with his wife in Pyongyang on 3 September.

South Korean media reports have suggested health issues are behind the absence, noting that recent footage of the young leader has shown him looking overweight and walking with a pronounced limp.

AFP has reported that speculation about the reason for Jong-un’s latest no-show has ranged from an attack of gout to an injury he may have picked up while providing “guidance” to North Korean athletes competing in the ongoing Asian Games.

Keeping mum

Officials in both North and South Korea have so far declined to comment on the issue.

In a press briefing today, the South’s Unification Ministry refused to add any new theories to the mix.

“North Korea has not made any official announcement… so we don’t have anything to comment on”, a ministry spokeswoman said.

“We are watching with various possibilities in mind, including the rumours about health problems,” she added.

Hong Hyun-Ik, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute think-tank in Seoul, warned against reading too much into Kim’s absence.

“Curiosity about Kim Jong-Un’s well-being tends to be overblown in the South,” Hong said.

“It’s quite possible that he’s just tired and resting up,” Hong said, noting that Kim had undertaken a hectic schedule, including trips to outlying military outposts, during the summer months.

Jong-un came to power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December 2011.

Maybe Dennis Rodman knows where he is.

Additional reporting: AP.

Read: Matt Cooper describes ‘outpouring of joy’ from crowd upon appearance of Kim Jong-Un

Read: Here’s Dennis Rodman singing ‘Happy Birthday’…to Kim Jong-Un…in North Korea

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Órla Ryan

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