- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2014

North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un hasn’t been seen in public for so long that talk is swirling he may have been deposed.

Mr. Kim’s been absent from the public eye since Sept. 4, and is reportedly suffering from gout. He supposedly also underwent surgery for two broken ankles, United Press International reported.

Mr. Kim wasn’t present at the latest meeting of North Korea’s congress, the Supreme People’s Assembly — something experts say is a sign that he’s experiencing something more serious than health problems, UPI reported.

A former counterintelligence official who held a high-ranking spot in Mr. Kim’s regime, Jang Jin Sung, said he thinks the Organization and Guidance Department actually usurped the dictator last year and headed up the execution of their political rival, Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek.

“When Jang Song Thaek was executed that was, basically, that totally broke everything,” Mr. Jang said, Vice News reported. “You just can’t touch a Kim family member publicly. … It’s the OGD’s claim to legitimacy. It’s them, saying no one is more legitimate than them. By Jang dying, Kim Jong-un is now surrounded by the OGD.”

Mr. Kim is now little more than a figurehead for the OGD, which ordered his disappearance, Mr. Jang told Vice.

North Korea has recently banned travel to the capital city of Pyongyang, too, UPI reported.

“This sort of action suggests there has either been an attempted coup or that the authorities there have uncovered some sort of plot against the leadership,” said Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University and an authority on North Korea, The Telegraph reported. “If it is a military-backed coup, then the situation in Pyongyang will be very dangerous and I have heard reports that Kim has been moved out of the capital.”

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