North Korea’s capital Pyongyang is expected to hold mass military parades this week but the country’s leader Kim Jong Un hasn’t been seen in public for more than a month.
NK News, a South Korean-based outlet, reports that Kim skipped a Politburo meeting on Sunday – the third time he’s ever done so.
Kim’s previous prolonged disappearances have provoked speculation about his health. Per NK News, his longest-ever break from public appearances was in 2014, when he was not seen for 40 days.
The parade, which will celebrate the 75th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army, is expected to be held on Tuesday or Wednesday. It remains to be seen whether Kim will emerge from hiding to make an appearance.
A man watches a television news broadcasting a file footage of a military parade showing North Korean soldiers and weapons, at a railway station in Seoul on October 10, 2020. (Photo by Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images)
Kim may use the event to showcase the latest hardware from his growing nuclear weapons and missile program that's brewing concern for the United States and its allies in Asia.
Last week, North Korea threatened to counter U.S. military moves with the "most overwhelming nuclear force" as it condemned U.S. plans to expand its joint exercise with South Korea and deploy more advanced military assets like bombers and aircraft carriers to the region.
North Korea fired more than 70 ballistic missiles in 2022, including potential nuclear-capable weapons designed to strike targets in South Korea or reach the U.S. mainland. It also conducted a slew of launches it described as simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean and U.S. targets in response to the expanded U.S. military drills with South Korea, which had been downsized during the Trump administration.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.