North Korean leader Kim Jong-un missing ahead of military parade
Kim Jong-un has not been seen in public for 35 days ahead of a planned mass parade in Pyongyang this week to celebrate the 75th anniversary of North Korea’s military.
The authoritarian leader skipped a Politburo meeting on Sunday over the country’s acute agricultural crisis, NK News reported, noting it was only the third time he had done so.
The extended periods spent out of the public eye fueled rumors of his deteriorating health and speculation about his possible successor.
The North Korean leader’s 35-day hiatus from the public eye matches another extended absence at the end of 2021, the Seoul-based website said.
However, Kim is still expected to attend this week’s military parade, which could take place as early as Tuesday evening.
Preparations for a possible celebration of the founding of the Korean People’s Army have been underway in freezing conditions at the Mirim Parade training ground since January, despite a sudden five-day lockdown in the capital Pyongyang, according to reports. satellite images analyzed by US-based surveillance. location 38 North.
Videos emerged over the weekend of military aircraft flying in formation at night and at low altitude over central Pyongyang towards Kim Il Sung Square, where most of the major public events take place. North Korea.
Dozens of citizens, wearing medical masks, were also seen gathered in the square alongside several large structures covered in black curtains, according to photos obtained by NK News.
North Korea, which in the past has televised mass parades to great fanfare to show off its latest weapons, has held many of its recent public celebrations under cover of darkness.
The pomp and grandeur of the planned spectacle comes despite reports of severe food shortages in the reclusive state.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported on Monday that the ruling Workers’ Party plans to take the unusual step of meeting for a second time within two months to discuss agricultural issues.
Aid organizations have consistently warned that the North faces chronic food shortages, exacerbated by a number of factors, including: border closures and self-isolation during the pandemic; natural disasters; and poor economic management.