Health rumours continue to swirl around North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un after he has failed to appear in public for nearly three weeks.
The leader, who reportedly has a soft spot for fine food and Swiss cheese, has not been seen in public since 3 September when he attended a concert with his wife, according to the Telegraph, and it is not yet known whether he will attend a specially convened session of North Korea’s parliament on Thursday.
One of Mr Kim’s last public outings is understood to have been at a ceremony marking 20 years since the death of his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, who founded North Korea.
Mr Kim appeared unsteady on his legs at the televised event held in the capital Pyongyang, and walked with a limp thought to be caused by his ballooning weight.
The leader, who is known for his promotion of the State’s military strength or its produce by posing for official pictures at factories, hospitals and most recently, on a submarine, has sparked speculation about his health due to his rapid weight gain since he came into power in 2011.
“There have been lots of reports that Mr Kim is not in good health, supported by video footage of him walking with a noticeable limp at an event in July and again earlier this month,” Toshimitsu Shigemura, an authority on North Korean affairs at the Waseda University in Toyko, told the Telegraph.
“It was clear that he could not walk fast or in a straight line,” he said, adding that his lack of public appearances could be due to power struggles within the North Korean military, or that the leader has suffered an accident.
Mr Kim’s ballooning weight is thought to be down to a number of factors including a love of Emmental cheese which he picked up while studying in Switzerland as part of his penchant for fine food, and an intention to look like his grandfather.
“There is a high chance Mr Kim intentionally gained weight to look like Kim Il-sung,” Cho Myung-Chul, a member of the Saenuri Party, told the Mirror.
The 31-year old leader is understood to import Emmental cheese especially, and attempted to enrol North Korean cooks on cheese making courses in France, which proved unsuccessful.
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