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North Korea: Is Kim Jong-Un Still in Power? Rumors Point to Political Coup

( [email protected] ) Oct 10, 2014 02:34 PM EDT

Kim Jong-un
(AP)

Rumors have surfaced that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, who has been absent from the public eye since early September, may be either suffering from an illness or may no longer be in power as the result of a political upheaval.

Kim Jong-Un, who is largely the focus of North Korean state media, has not been seen in public for over one month. He failed to make an appearance at the Workers' Party Anniversary event on Friday, which honors the Kim dynasty. The young leader has attended this event the last two years, and it is somewhat unusual that he would not be among the dignitaries in attendance. Kim also missed a parliament meeting in late September, and rumors about his health and political power have ensued.

Because of prevalent secrecy in North Korea, it is difficult to get much information about what may be going on. Kim was last seen at a concert with his wife on September 3, and the state media has failed to offer much of an explanation for his absence, other than that the dictator has been experiencing "discomfort."

Related: Where in the World Is North Korea's Dictator Kim Jong Un? 

Kim had been seen limping on both his left and right leg in previous public appearances, and the 37-year-old is rumored to be suffering from gout, which may have contributed to arthritis. Others believe that he may have diabetes, high blood pressure, health issues related to obesity, or a pulled tendon.

Three officials reportedly visited the Asian Games in South Korea recently and assured others that Kim was in good health. Kim was absent, however, when the North Korean athletes returned to the capital for a celebratory reception.

Hwang Pyong So, the leader of the North Korean military, was at the Workers' Party Anniversary and also made an appearance in South Korea recently. His presence in Kim's stead has contributed to rumors that there may have been a coup. CNN reports that Kim has replaced over half of the political leaders in the Workers' Party in the past three years, many of whom were suspected of plotting or committing treason.

Some believe that perhaps Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, is running the country while Kim Jong-Un is ill. Whether the North Korean dictator is in bad health or not, Fox News reports that Kim's absence might stir political unrest in the unstable country.