Kim Jong-un still in control of North Korea, source says

The North's leader reportedly suffered a leg injury over the summer that has 'worsened,' requiring more time for recuperation.

Ahn Young-joon/AP
A man watches a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. As North Korea's ruling party prepares to mark its 69th anniversary on Friday, the world will be watching to see if leader Kim will make his first public appearance in more than a month.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has aggravated a leg injury he suffered in late August or early September that needs three months to heal, but remains fully in charge of the country, a source with access to the North's leadership said on Thursday.

North Korea's state media, which usually chronicles the 31-year-old's whereabouts in great detail, has not made any mention of Kim's activities since Sept. 3, fueling speculation that he may be in ill health or his grip on power may be slipping.

"Kim Jong-un is in total control," said the source, who has close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing and direct access to the top levels of both governments. "There is no split in the top leadership."

"He injured his ankle and knee around late August or early September ... because he is overweight. He limped around in the beginning but the injury worsened," the source said.

"He has difficulty walking and needs about 100 days to recuperate."

Speculation that Kim's unusually long absence from public view may be due to ill health increased when a North Korean TV report late last month said he was suffering "discomfort."

Some Pyongyang watchers also suggest that Kim may have been sidelined in a power struggle, a scenario they say was reinforced by the unexpected visit on Saturday of a high-level delegation to Incheon, South Korea.

"The DPRK is absolutely stable, a lot more stable than in the past," the source said, using the short form for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "Rumors about a coup and that Kim Jong-un is dead are rubbish."

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