Kim Jong Un, the secretive dictator of North Korea, hasn’t been seen in weeks, leading to speculation about his health or even whether he remains in power in the isolated country. Intelligence agencies around the world are waiting to see whether the 31-year-old attends an annual celebration of the Workers’ Party of Korea early Friday.
Kim hasn’t made a public appearance since attending a state concert with his wife on Sept. 3. Before that, the ruler of the nuclear-armed state had been seen walking with a limp — state-run media report that he was suffering from “discomfort,” which could mean any physical ailment. If Kim is no longer in power, the consequences could be dire.
“This becomes a serious competition that could potentially break out, possibly to a civil war, even,” Bruce Bennett of the RAND Corporation told NBC News.
Kim Jong Un has a younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, that some have speculated is running North Korea in her brother’s absence. But family politics in the political dynasty can be a brutal affair: Kim ordered the execution of his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, in December.
— Andrea Mitchell