WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has not seen any definitive indication of a transfer of power in North Korea, where state media have not mentioned leader Kim Jong Un’s activities in weeks, a top U.S. official said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
Kim’s absence from the public eye has fueled speculation over the state of his health and whether he may have been sidelined in a power struggle.
“Obviously we are watching very carefully what’s happening in North Korea,” national security adviser Susan Rice said in an interview broadcast on NBC’s “Meet the Press”. “We have not seen any indications of a transfer of power at this point in North Korea that we view as definitive but we’ll continue to watch it carefully.”
North Korea’s state media, which usually report Kim’s activities in detail, have not mentioned any public appearances since he attended a concert on Sept. 3. The official KCNA news agency indicated he did not attend an important political anniversary on Friday.
Kim is still in firm control of his government but hurt his leg taking part in a military drill, a source with access to the secretive nation’s leadership told Reuters last week.
It was not clear why a leg injury would keep him out of sight for so long, although it was not the first time he has been missing from view. Six months after coming to power, state media failed to report on or photograph him for 23 days.
Speculation on his health was stoked by a North Korean television report late last month that he was suffering from discomfort.
Reporting by Jim Loney; Editing by Stephen Powell