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 Korea-based outlet, reports that Kim missed a Politburo meeting on Sunday – the third time he has done so.
Kim’s previous prolonged disappearances have prompted speculation about his health. According to NK News, his longest hiatus from public appearances was in 2014, when he hasn’t been seen for 40 days.
The parade, which will mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army, is expected to take place on Tuesday or Wednesday. Whether or not Kim will come out of hiding to make an appearance remains to be seen.
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Kim could use the event to showcase the latest hardware from his growing nuclear and missile weapons program that is causing concern for the United States and its allies in Asia.
Last week, North Korea threatened to counter US military moves with ‘most crushing nuclear force’, condemning US plans to expand its joint exercise with South Korea and deploy more advanced military assets such as bombers and aircraft carriers in the region.
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North Korea has launched more than 70 ballistic missiles in 2022, including potential nuclear-capable weapons designed to strike targets in South Korea or reach the US mainland. It also conducted a series of drops it described as simulated nuclear strikes against South Korean and US targets in response to extensive US military exercises with South Korea, which had been scaled back during the Trump administration.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.