Is Kim Jong-Un Dead? A Timeline of the North Korean Dictator's Mysterious Absence
As his absence becomes more and more obvious, the rumors surrounding Kim Jong-Un's disappearance have become more and more bizarre. But this one takes the cake: Some believe that Kim Jong-un might be dead. That's the latest theory offering an explanation for why the North Korean supreme leader hasn't been seen in public since a Sept. 3 concert, his longest absence since his first official appearance in 2010. And when Kim was a no-show at multiple important events this week, speculation reached fever pitch.
On Tuesday, the North Korean dictator missed the 17th anniversary celebration of his father's election as general secretary of the Workers' Party. Then, on Friday, Kim missed two more key events. First, he was absent from paying respects to his father and grandfather, a ritual visit that elite dignitaries make right after midnight on the anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party. Then he missed the anniversary commemoration itself, which marked 69 years since the party's establishment, and the first time Kim's missed the event since succeeding his father, Kim Jong-il, in 2011.
So what's going on? Everything from health problems to a regime coup have been suggested as theories for his disappearance, and now people are actually wondering if he may have died. It is rather peculiar that he hasn't issued any statements through his team, if only to quell the whisperings. And if his sister is really acting as interim supreme leader, why hasn't she spoken out? Could it be that something is brewing? Is the regime preparing to announce some very big changes? Here's a look at Kim's absence and all the crazy rumors that have filled his void.
- Sept. 3: Kim attends the concert of his favorite pop group, the Moranbong Band, his last public appearance.
- Sept. 17: It's discovered that Kim has a rather unhealthy obsession with cheese, which has caused significant weight gain.
- Sept. 26: North Korean authorities comment on Kim's health for the first time, saying he was suffering from an "uncomfortable physical condition" after rumors of gout began circulating.
- Sept. 28: The official comment only fuels more speculation over his food-related health problems, which now include diabetes and wine addiction.
- Sept. 29: Still absent, Kim is now believed to have undergone ankle surgery because of a leftover injury from June, a claim that is validated by the July video that shows the despot limping at the 20th anniversary commemoration of Kim Il-sung's death.
- Oct. 3: With Kim still missing, three elite officials from his regime make an appearance at the Asian Games in South Korea, including Hwang Pyong-so, a top member in the Organization and Guidance Department. His appearance fuels rumors of a possible coup d'etat in the Kim regime.
- Oct. 8: Reports now suggest that Kim's little sister, Kim Yo-jong, is running North Korea in his place, either temporarily or possibly permanently.
- Oct. 10: An anonymous source told Reuters that rumors of a coup are unfounded; the supreme leader is merely indisposed because he pulled a tendon during a military drill. OK, so now we're back to health problems...
- Oct. 10: On the same day, other reports asked, "Is Kim Jong-un dead?"
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