Is North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un really unwell? Has he been already overthrown or is he dead – at least in a political sense?
These are the questions being asked about the mysterious and rare disappearance of the Hermit kingdom's dictator. Speculations and rumours have been fuelled after the surprise visit of North Korean officials in the closing ceremony of the Asian Games in South.
The mysterious leader has been notably absent from a number of public events in recent times, including Thursday's Supreme People's Assembly, the CNN notes. The unexplained absence of the dictator loomed large over the surprise visit on Saturday by three members of his closest aides.
South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae, who held talks with the trio of Kim's lop officials said on Sunday that one member, Kim Yang-Gon, had insisted that the young leader does not have any health issues.
"There is nothing wrong with the health of Secretary Kim," he quoted Kim Yang-God as saying, according to AFP. The North Korean official was part of the delegation visiting the South for the Asian Games, where officials reportedly held the highest level of in-person talks between the two countries in five years.
Rumours about the leader's health have been circulating ever since he was first seen limping back in July. Other rumours doing round currently claim that Kim was lying low due to his excessive weight gain – thanks to his love for Swiss cheese.
This comes days after reports said the North Korean capital was under intense lockdown raising questions on whether the reclusive regime is on the verge of its doom. A source quoted by the Telegraph last week also said that Kim could have fled the capital amid threat to his life.
"It is a military-backed coup, the situation in Pyongyang will be very dangerous and I have heard reports that Kim has been moved out of the capital," Toshimitsu Shigumura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University, told the newspaper, adding that some senior officials of the regime "are closing the escape routes, such as the airport and the border."