Is Kim Jong-un Laying Low Because Cheese?

That North Korean leader is a mysterious fellow. Quite apart from the mandatory hairstyle, the rapid weight gain, and the did-he-or-didn't-he execution games, lately, the supreme leader has kinda just... disappeared. The usually spotlight-loving head of state is not in the press, not at events, and not at meetings. That's right, Kim Jong-un has been missing for several weeks, and no one's quite sure why.

The last time that Kim made a public appearance was Sept. 3, when he went to a concert with his wife. Since then, the media hasn't heard a peep from the dictator. According to the AP, on Thursday he didn't even show up to the reopening of North Korea's Supreme People’s Assembly, a super high-level meeting at the Pyongyang parliament. It's the first time he's missed such an important event since 2011, when his father died.

There are a lot of questions one could ask about the North Korean dictator. Does he really rule the country, or is he simply under the thumb of the intriguing Organization and Guidance Department? Does he really love theme parks and brutal prison camps simultaneously, or are the water slides just an image booster? Why would anyone ever want a mushroom-flavored sports drink? But the most important question is this: Why, oh why, is he hiding?

Here are three reported reasons the North Korean dictator is lying low.

Possible Reason No. 1: Cheese, Apparently

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It's true. Several news sources, including The Daily Mirror, are suggesting that most sinister culprit: Emmental. Apparently, Kim really, really loves the Swiss cheese (who doesn't?), and has huge amounts imported for his own personal consumption (I would too, if I could). But it's possible he's been enjoying the delicious snack just a little too enthusiastically — he's gained a lot of weight really quickly, and the media noticed that the last time he was in public, he was walking with a limp.

In other words, the North Korean leader may be out of action because he's made himself ill by eating too much cheese. Strangely, this is the most endearing I've ever found the dictator.

Possible Reason No. 2: Gout

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Another explanation for the weight gain and limp: gout. In fact a type of arthritis, gout causes intense pain and sometimes weight gain (so maybe, it's not all the Emmental's fault after all). Michael Madden, a journalist for the 38 North website, said that “based on his gait, it appears he has gout — something [due to] diet and genetic predisposition that has affected other members of the Kim family."

Possible Reason No. 3: Security

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Of course, North Korea always has internal political and military struggles going on, and this isn't even first time that Kim has lain low — back in 2012, he went missing from the media spotlight for two weeks without any explanation. So some are interpreting his disappearance as nothing more than a precautionary security measure. As Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo, told the Daily Telegraph:

Another reason why Kim may be reluctant to appear in public is the ongoing power struggle inside the North Korean military, which means that the situation in Pyongyang is still unstable.

It's possible. On Friday, state media confirmed for the first time that Kim's health isn't too good, acknowledging that he's been dealing with some "discomfort." Hmm, seems like a cheese-related problem to me.

Images: Getty Images (3)