North Korean boy king Kim Jong-un showed some rare vulnerability today at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of his grandfather Kim Il-sung’s death. No, he didn’t cry — the regime would probably crumble — but he did hobble to the stage, setting off the same media alarm that sounds every time something vaguely interesting or out of the ordinary slips out of the secretive country’s bubble of isolation. Is the 31-year-old dying or something? Probably not! But he’s definitely limping and we’ll probably never know why. Which means we have to guess.
1. Weight gain. “Not surprising: that a 30-something man who appears to have recently gained weight, smokes heartily, and is probably perpetually stressed out from his dictatorial duties might have physical issues,” presumes Newser. Like U.S. presidents going gray, authoritarian leaders tend to the put on the freshman 15 (or 20 … ) as soon as there’s no one around to tell them no.
2. Rebellion. “Kim Il Sung, who ruled until his death in 1994, had a large and inoperable tennis-ball sized growth on the back of his neck which meant state media were forbidden from filming him from certain angles,” Reuters reports. This is a new regime, the limp signals, one of more compassionate “crimes of extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, rape and persecution on grounds of race, religion and gender.”
3. Plastic surgery. “There are speculations about a scar on Kim’s forehead, rumored to be a plastic surgery mark from an operation to make himself look more like his grandfather who is considered the country’s ‘eternal president,’” says ABC News. Maybe grandad also had really defined calf muscles and Little Kim couldn’t get there without implants.
4. New dress shoes. What, despots can’t get blisters?
5. Attention. It’s hard waiting patiently all your life to become supreme leader and then still having to constantly pay tribute to your grandfather, who was always kind of a dick anyway. As any toddler or World Cup star knows, the quickest way to get the spotlight back on you is to feign or exaggerate an injury. Kim’s Google Alert must be going nuts today.