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Kim Jong Un's absence from public view fuels speculation




North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, waves to the crowd as they inspect the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground in Pyongyang on July 25, 2012 in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency. For North Koreans, it was stunning to see the first lady at the leader's side — and holding his arm.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, waves to the crowd as they inspect the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground in Pyongyang on July 25, 2012 in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency. For North Koreans, it was stunning to see the first lady at the leader's side — and holding his arm.
Uncredited/AP

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not been seen in public for more than a month, sparking rumors that he's ill or may have even been deposed.

The chatter only grew louder Friday when he failed to show up for a ceremony marking the founding of the Korean Workers' party. It's an event he's never missed before.

The BBC's correspondent in South Korea Stephen Evans says he thinks Kim is probably ill, but still in power. No one really knows for sure, but Evans says, "He's clearly out of it in some shape or form. Something's happened. But the question is what."

As to the theory that a coup might have occurred and that Kim has been deposed, Evans says the South Korean government doesn't think that's the case. 

The reason for that, he says, is that "if you have a coup, you need the military to move around and secure radio stations and palaces... and that hasn't happened."