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Kim Jong Un Caught Limping

Hobbles onstage at a tribute to his grandfather
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2014 6:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – Not surprising: that a 30-something man who appears to have recently gained weight, smokes heartily, and is probably perpetually stressed out from his dictatorial duties might have physical issues. Surprising: that that man is Kim Jong Un—and that state media showed him apparently exhibiting one of those physical issues today. Footage aired on state television showed North Korea's "supreme leader" limping onto the stage at a 20th anniversary tribute for his deceased grandfather, Kim Il Sung. The footage is unusual in that North Korea carefully controls all state media and rarely shows its leaders showing any defects or sign of weakness.

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Kim Il Sung, for example, reportedly forbade the media from taking any pictures of him that showed a large growth on the back of his neck, reports Reuters. While so far it's not clear why Kim appeared to be limping as he entered the Pyongyang ceremony and took his place onstage in front of a giant, smiling portrait of his grandfather, the founder of North Korea, what is clear is that it jump-started media speculation about his health. His well-being, or lack thereof, is a source of constant speculation among the press in general and the South Korean press in particular. Yonhap notes it was Kim's first appearance at an official quinquennium memorial, which it reports is held as a way to keep Kim Il Sung's memory alive and bolster the country's allegiance to the Kims. (Read more Kim Jong Un stories.)

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