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North Korea's Kim Jong Un Appears Limping on State TV at Ceremony

  • VOA News

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at midnight on Tuesday on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the demise of President Kim Il Sung in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Py

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared to be limping Tuesday at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the death of his grandfather, the country's founding president, Kim Il Sung.

In state television footage broadcast live, Kim shuffled quickly and unevenly across a wide stage at a massive auditorium in Pyongyang as thousands of military officials applauded him.

No reason was given for Kim's apparent injury, which was a rare display of frailty for a leader whom many North Koreans regard as god-like.

In an interview with VOA, Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, played down the significance of Kim's limp, saying he may have suffered the injury during military drills last week.

"I think the health of Kim Jong Un is not too bad. He probably sprained his leg during his inspection at a front-line military detachment in the East Sea. He is showing his appearance as it is because he is trying to show his confidence by not hiding any aspects of his health as a young leader," said Kim.

The young Kim did not speak at the event. Instead, the country's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam, praised the deceased Kim Il Sung as "the greatest leader in human history" and said his grandson is following in his footsteps.

"[Kim Jong Un] has opened a new era for our people's freedom and revolution, started the future for anti-imperialism and anti-America, and created a construction for our world teachings of socialism. His precious name will be a light in the world and our hearts for all people and humanity," said Kim.

Elsewhere in the capital, throngs of North Koreans bowed deeply and lined up to leave bouquets of flowers or ornate wreaths in front of statues of Kim Il Sung.

Kim Il Sung ruled North Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong Il, who died unexpectedly in 2011, leaving power in the hands of Kim Jong Un.

VOA's Youmi Kim contributed to this story from Seoul.

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