North Korean leader Kim Jong Un makes first appearance in 40 days…but where has he been?

Independent – by KUNAL DUTTA

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who had not been in public for 40 days, fuelling unprecedented speculation over his general health and grip on power, has emerged, according to a state news agency.

North Korea’s official news agency KCNA said their leader “gave field guidance” to the newly built Wisong Scientists Residential District, and visited the Natural Energy Institute of the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyang. The report, dated Tuesday, did not specify when the visits were made.  

Nonetheless, the news will cool speculation of the whereabouts of the 31-year-old leader whose absence from a key political celebration last Friday morning sent speculation into overdrive. Competing theories surrounding the absence of the leader, last seen at a concert with his wife on September 3, ranged from a leadership coup to health issues including broken ankles, gout or diabetes.

It is not the first time the North Korean leader has disappeared from public view. He was absent from TV broadcasts for 21 days in March 2012 and for a slightly longer period three months later.

Nonetheless, by the account of the North Korean news machine, it was business-as-usual with no mention made of Mr Kim’s health on Tuesday. Instead the KCNA report Tuesday detailed his comments about the construction projects. At the tour of the residential district, Kim praised the North Korea’s scientists as “patriots who are devoting all their lives to building a rich and powerful nation, convinced that though there is no frontier in science, they have a socialist motherland and are under the care of the mother party.”

Life in one of the world’s most secretive societies, for the moment at least, goes on.

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