North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un Hasn’t Been Seen in a Month

For the last month, 31-year-old North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un—who inherited the role from his late father Kim Jong Il—has not been seen. Though a pronounced limp and recent weight gain have led some DPRK analysts to speculate that an illness is keeping him from public appearances, his absence from some high-profile political meetings have led other experts to believe there’s a different reason behind his disappearance: a silent coup. A former high-ranking North Korean official told Vice News that government leaders known as the Organization and Guidance Department (OGD) have stopped answering to Kim. From their report:

The OGD … has effectively taken control of the country, and a conflict is simmering between factions that want to maintain absolute control over the economy and others seeking to gain wealth through foreign trade and a slightly more open market.

Though any internal unrest is unconfirmed, there were more curious developments over the weekend. Three high-ranking officials made a last minute visit to South Korea on Saturday at close of the Asian Games, telling political leaders that they wanted to meet for new talks in the coming weeks. A North Korea expert told CNN, “Within my memory … there was never ever such a high-level visit.” Though some regional experts still believe that the young ruler is simply too ill to make public appearances and is leading from behind the scenes, his strange disappearance from public and recent diplomatic development could signal that possible changes are on the horizon in the isolated country …

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