Kim Jong-un casually strolled back onto the scene—with a slight limp—on Tuesday, according to North Korea’s state run media. Speculation swirled about Kim’s grasp on power and the leader’s health since he went off the grid last month following his last public appearance at a concert on Sept. 3.
“The 31-year-old leader was shown on the front cover of North Korea’s main newspaper laughing and walking with a cane while talking to officials,” the Wall Street Journal reports, “appearing to end speculation that he might have been sidelined or was suffering from a grave medical condition.”
Here’s more from the Journal on Kim’s nonchalant reemergence:
The [newspaper] report said Mr. Kim was giving “field guidance” at a new residential area for scientists. Such reports are a staple of North Korean state media and are designed to show the leader is signing off on major projects or giving final additional instructions. By showing Mr. Kim walking with a cane, the images appeared to confirm that the leader has had problems with his legs, as has been suspected by officials in Seoul. Media reports, citing unnamed intelligence officials, said Mr. Kim has had surgery for ankle problems. Other reports have suggested he has had gout… The report showing Mr. Kim’s reappearance was published on Tuesday but wasn’t dated, as is common with North Korean state media. As such, it couldn’t be confirmed exactly when Mr. Kim was shown but the images were the first of him in public since he appeared at a concert on Sept. 3.
“Looking over the exterior of the apartment houses and public buildings, decorated with diverse coloured tiles, (Mr Kim) expressed great satisfaction, saying they looked very beautiful,” the North Korean news agency reported, according to the BBC. This is, presumably, Kim’s “great satisfaction” look.