Kim Jong Un hasn't been seen in public since Sept. 3, even missing the year's second session of its rubber-stamp parliament yesterday, and North Korea today explained why, albeit vaguely. The 31-year-old is "suffering discomfort," according to state media, in what Reuters terms the "first official [acknowledgment] of ill health." It didn't get more specific than that, though it did attest to the fact that he has continued to light the way for his country "like the flicker of a flame." Media beyond the Hermit Kingdom is getting more specific, however, and the consensus is that it's gout. Footage aired on state television in July showed him limping, and pre-recorded footage aired yesterday shows him struggling to walk, adds Reuters.
A source tells Yonhap that it is indeed gout, and he's limping "on both legs." The Wall Street Journal reports that what has been dubbed "the disease of kings" typically strikes those who eat a high-calorie, boozy diet, causing intense joint pain, most typically in the toes; genetics can also play a role. Gout has dogged members of the Kim family, having reportedly struck his grandfather, father, and oldest brother. And it may not be the only thing dogging Kim: The source says he's also believed to be suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure. Another source tells Yonhap that North Korean doctors have journeyed to Europe in secret in search of ways to treat Kim. (Meanwhile, a 24-year-old American held in North Korea describes prison there.)