Kim Jong-un missed a key political anniversary ceremony on October 10, the North Korean media said, amid speculation over his absence from public view.
The North Korean leader’s name was not on a list of those who visited a mausoleum to mark the ruling party’s anniversary.
Kim Jong-un has not been seen for more than a month, the longest hiatus since he came to power in 2011.
State television last month said Kim Jong-un had an “uncomfortable physical condition” and later showed him limping.
On October 10, South Korea said it believed Kim Jong-un remained in control of the communist state.
“It seems that Kim Jong-un’s rule is in normal operation,” Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying.
“With regard to his specific health conditions, our government has no information to confirm yet,” he said.
On October 10, North Korean officials visited Kumsusan Palace, a mausoleum for late leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, to mark the 69th anniversary of the Workers’ Party.
For the first time in three years, Kim Jong-un’s name was not included in the list.
Kim Jong-un, 31, who inherited power after his father Kim Jong-il died in 2011, has not been seen in public since September 3.
His absence has led to speculation over both his health and his grip on power.
South Korean media outlets, citing unidentified sources, suggest Kim Jong-un, who is overweight, has gout.
Adding to speculation about Kim Jong-un’s whereabouts, Reuters correspondent James Pearson tweeted an image of a North Korean newspaper on Friday featuring an image of Kim Jong-il, the now deceased former leader.
“Front page of today’s main North Korean paper shows leader Kims pics, but no Kim Jong-Un – to whom it pledges loyalty,” said James Pearson, who covers North and South Korea.
Appearances by Kim Jong-un’s number two, coupled with recent claims by a former North Korean official, have also led to suggestions that the young leader may have been toppled.
Hwang Pyong-so, a top military aide who is considered Kim Jong-un’s number two, has made high-profile appearances.
General Hwang Pyong-so, 65, led a delegation of North Korean officials to Seoul for the closing ceremony of the Asian Games, in a visit seen as a rare opportunity for high-level talks between the North and South.
None of the speculation can be confirmed.
Hwang Pyong-so’s visit, coupled with continued coverage in North Korean state media of Kim Jong-un’s leadership, were cited by the Seoul on October 10 as evidence that Kim Jong-un was still in power.
It is not the first time that Kim Jong-un has failed to appear in public for an extended period. He spent 21 days out of the public eye in March 2012 and then another 24 in June the same year.
In January 2013, Kim Jong-un was absent for 18 days.
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