North Korean autocrat Kim Jong-un hasn’t appeared in public for weeks, with observers speculating that his absence could indicate an ongoing power struggle or a case of gout. And new reports say that Kim was nowhere to be found at another major North Korean event, the celebration of the anniversary of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party. From the AP:
North Korea’s propaganda machine conveyed the no-show to the world in its typical murky and indirect fashion — a state media dispatch that excluded Kim’s name from a list of senior government, military and party officials who paid their respects at an event marking the party’s 69th anniversary.
Indications that Kim remains firmly in power were evident, however. His name appeared on a flower basket placed before statues of his father and grandfather, both of whom also ruled North Korea, and an earlier dispatch said the might of the party “is growing stronger under the seasoned guidance of Marshal Kim Jong Un.”
South Korean activists marked the Workers’ Party anniversary by releasing balloons over the countries’ border, to which the North apparently responded by firing machine guns, to which the South responded by firing rifles, to which the North responded by firing its own rifles. No injuries or deaths were reported, though fatal exchanges of fire between the two countries are not unheard of.