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After disappearing from public view for three weeks in April, Kim Jong-un has once again withdrawn as doubts around his health persist. Last month, some reports suggested the North Korean dictator could be dead, but South Korean and US officials claimed he was alive and well. Then, at the start of May, Kim was reported as making his first public appearance in 21 days. The country’s state controlled news agency said Kim cut a ribbon at a ceremony, and those attending “burst into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’ for the Supreme Leader who is commanding the all-people general march for accomplishing the great cause of prosperity”.
While Kim attempted to maintain a facade of normality, one expert claimed there was an obvious health issue with the North Korean leader.
Nam Seong-wook, a professor of North Korean studies at Korea University told Reuters earlier this month: “Preparing desks and chairs on the stage seemed a bit rare for such an outdoor occasion.
“Kim might have some physical conditions that prevent him from standing too long and he needs to be seated after standing up for a while.”
Nam said if Kim was unable to stand for long periods that maybe the reason he did not attend an anniversary event in April at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where he would have had to have stood for at least an hour.
But as Kim disappears once more, North Korea’s state media is once again trying to paint a positive picture.
Earlier this week, it said Kim has been hard at work 365 days a year – without taking time off for holidays, birthdays and even sleep.
An article in the country’s daily Rodong Sinmun said: “From the outset, the revolutionary calendar of our leader … does not have any day offs, holidays or birthdays.”
The official paper of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea dedicated the entire front page to extolling the past eight years of the reclusive Kim’s leadership.
It added: “Our party, in drafting and implementing of all policies, have prioritised the people’s benefit … and have cast the iron mace mercilessly to, whomever that is, those who infringe on the people’s benefit with abusing power, bureaucratism, and corruption.”
Rodong emphasised that “Supreme Leader comrade Kim Jong Un is continuing a no-sleep, no-rest, high-intensity schedule at this moment”.
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The outlet also praised Kim’s love for the people and hailed his leadership despite the “unprecedented hardships” and “severe conditions” the country has been going through, including “pressure” by foreign powers.
It said the “hostile powers put an unheard-of high-intensity pressure” on Pyongyang.
The piece concluded: “The imperialists saw the shifting of our revolutionary generation as a golden opportunity to realise the half-a-century old anti-DPRK [North Korea] strategy to crush us to death and mobilised all methods.”
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