Following a very pleasant-looking summer vacation, North Korea’s young ruler, Kim Jong-un, missed Thursday’s performative parliamentary meeting, fueling speculation that he is battling some health issues.
After a three-week absence, state run North Korean media — is there any other kind? — acknowledged the situation, saying that the 31-year-old was suffering “discomfort.” Dear Leader has also been seen limping around since July. Add to those symptoms his well-documented Swiss cheese addiction, and you may have an answer: gout.
And this isn’t just outlandish Daily Mail speculation, either. The Wall Street Journal reports that South Korean officials think the plumped-up dictator suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity on top of his gout problems, similar to the set of ailments that afflicted his grandfather. Not that North Korean doctors will know how to treat such a thing, of course — gout is notorious for affecting those with access to decadent food, which most starving North Koreans definitely do not have.
There’s also the slight possibility that Kim has been absent because of ongoing power struggles within the military. But given the family predisposition, gout seems like a safer bet. And given North Korea’s iron-clad secrecy, we’ll probably never find out.