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N. Korean leader out of public eye for longest time this year

North Korea 13:58 May 31, 2021

SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has not made any public appearances for the past 24 days, marking his longest absence this year, the unification ministry said Monday.

Kim was last seen in public on May 6 when he held a photo session with families of the North's army after watching their performance the previous day.

"This marks the longest period there have been no reports of (Kim's) public activities this year," Lee Jong-joo, spokesperson of the unification ministry, told a regular press briefing.

Lee, however, did not provide any possible reason for his absence from public view, saying it was inappropriate to make an assessment at this point.

Kim's absence from the public eye comes as the North has not yet released any official government statements in response to the latest summit meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this month.

His 20-day absence last year also sparked worldwide speculation over his health and even the possibility of his death. That speculation was soon dismissed when he reappeared at a ceremony marking the completion of a fertilizer factory with a broad smile in early May.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, applaud as they attend a performance given by the art groups of servicemen's families from large combined units of the Korean People's Army at the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang on May 5, 2021, in this photo captured from the North's Korean Central Television the next day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)


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