North Korea’s capital Pyongyang is set to hold massive military parades this week, but the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, hasn’t been seen in public in over a month.
According to NK News, a South Korean news outlet, Kim skipped a Politburo meeting on Sunday for the third time.
Kim’s previous extended disappearances have raised concerns about his health. According to NK News, his longest break from public appearances was in 2014, when he went missing for 40 days.
The parade, which will commemorate the Korean People’s Army’s 75th anniversary, is expected to take place on Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s unclear whether Kim will come out of hiding to make an appearance.
Kim may use the event to show off the latest hardware from his expanding nuclear weapons and missile programme, which is causing concern among the US and its Asian allies.
North Korea threatened to counter US military moves with the “most overwhelming nuclear force” last week, as it condemned US plans to expand its joint exercise with South Korea and deploy more advanced military assets to the region, such as bombers and aircraft carriers.
North Korea fired more than 70 ballistic missiles in 2022, including potential nuclear-capable weapons aimed at South Korean targets or the US mainland.
It also carried out a series of launches it described as simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean and US targets in response to increased US military drills with South Korea, which had been scaled back during the Trump administration.