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Kim Jong Un Makes First Public Appearance In More Than A Month

A photo released Monday by the Rodong Sinmun, newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walking with a cane as he visits a residential area in Pyongyang. Rodong Sinmun/EPA/LANDOV hide caption

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Rodong Sinmun/EPA/LANDOV

A photo released Monday by the Rodong Sinmun, newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walking with a cane as he visits a residential area in Pyongyang.

Rodong Sinmun/EPA/LANDOV

After 40 days of seclusion, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made a public appearance, an outing that could help quell rumors about his health and status. Kim visited a new housing complex, according to state media that released photos of the event — but without attaching a specific date to it.

North Korea has confirmed only that Kim has been in "discomfort." The newly released photos show Kim using a cane, possibly confirming theories that he underwent ankle surgery. More than a month ago, he was seen limping as he walked.

From the Korea Herald:

"Kim's visit to the newly built residential district for satellite engineers and a new energy research institute marked his first 'field guidance' trip since attending a concert on Sept. 3. The official Korean Central News Agency did not mention the date of the trip, but it was thought to have been Monday.

"In a photo carried in the Rodong Sinmun, a ruling Workers' Party mouthpiece, Kim looks vigorous, though he has apparently lost some weight and still relies on a cane. Seoul's intelligence officials speculated that he has gout and had surgery on his leg, with French doctors entering Pyongyang for his treatment."

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Kim's disappearance from the public eye has led to speculation that included theories that he had suffered from a serious medical problem — or even a coup. The rumors increased on Friday, when the leader didn't attend a large celebration marking the 69th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.

Some of the theories were rounded up last week for The Two-Way by Krishnadev Calamur.