Kim Jong Un absent amid North Korea anniversary celebration
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was absent from a national celebration dedicated to the nation’s founder and Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, on Friday, raising questions about the state of his health.
According to reports from KCNA, the country’s state-run media, North Korean leaders paid tribute to Kim Il Sung’s preserved body at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun but did not mention Kim Jong Un’s presence, according to Reuters.
Kim was also not present in official photos of the celebration.
This was the first time in decades that the country’s leader has not made an appearance during the national holiday, referred to in North Korea as the “Day of the Sun.” It is difficult to glean what Kim’s absence could mean for the leader and the country, which has rendered itself an information and intelligence black hole since its inception in the 1950s.
However, top analysts said that Kim’s absence is highly unusual considering the family’s dedication to its patriarch.
“He has been going there on the birthdays of his grandfather and father to flaunt his royalty to them and sacred bloodline,” Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at South Korea’s Sejong Institute, told Reuters.
Duyeon Kim, a senior adviser for the International Crisis Group on Northeast Asia and nuclear policy, said that it is “unprecedented” for Kim not to “pay his respects,” according CNN.
Kim, 36, was last seen at a meeting of the Worker’s Party on Saturday.
The news comes as the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the globe, with its current epicenter in the United States.
Though North Korea has previously claimed that it does not have any cases of the deadly disease, medical experts in the area are almost positive that its citizens have come in contact with it. North Korea shares a border with China, where the virus originated.
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