North Korean leader Kim Jong-un takes centre stage with a limp

Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un limped on to the stage on the anniversary of his grandfather's death, footage broadcast by state media on Tuesday showed in a rare display of weakness in a country where leaders are portrayed as semi-divine.

The footage showed Mr Kim limping quickly on to the centre of a large stage in front a vast smiling portrait of his grandfather, North Korean founding president Kim Il-sung, who died 20 years ago.

Up Next

Aung San Suu Kyi addresses Rohingya crisis

Video duration

More World News Videos

North Korea's Kim Jong-un limps onto stage

In a rare sign of weakness, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un limps as he visits the mausoleum of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the death of the country's founder.

State media and propaganda are highly choreographed by the isolated country and any defects with its leadership are usually kept a tightly guarded secret.

The eulogy was read by North Korea’s nominal head of state, Kim Yong-nam, who hailed the elder Kim as the “greatest leader in human history” and offered a long list of his accomplishments, punctuated by lengthy and regular applause.

“Thanks to the powerful army created by the great leader Kim Il-sung, we have successfully overcome all challenges,” he said.


Kim Yong-nam also called for the entire country to “unite under the respected leadership” of Kim Jong-un to build a prosperous future.

Kim Il-sung led North Korea from its establishment in 1948 until his death on July 8, 1994.

He was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-il, who also ruled until his death in December 2011 when power was transferred to his son and current leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim Jong-un bears a striking physical resemblance to his grandfather, which he has underlined with his style of dress and haircut.

Like Kim Il-sung, he does not shy away from public speeches and is regularly seen hugging and posing for photos with soldiers.

Kim Jong-il was far more aloof and only spoke once at a major public event during his 17 years in power.

Kim Il-sung, who ruled until his death in 1994, had a large and inoperable tennis-ball sized growth on the back of his neck which meant state media were forbidden from filming him from certain angles.

It was not immediately clear how Kim Jong-un developed the limp. State media has shown the 31-year-old leader conducting extensive military on the spot guidance visits on the east and west coasts in recent weeks.

North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 civil conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

North Korea, which has threatened a fourth nuclear test in violation of U.N. sanctions, has test-fired short-range missiles and rockets three times in the past 10 days and threatened to continue doing so.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse