SEOUL, Oct. 11 (UPI) — After a week of speculation that North Korea may engage in a provocation during a major national anniversary, attention is being drawn to Kim Jong Un‘s notable absence in public affairs.
The North Korean leader, most recently seen providing field guidance at the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Souvenir Factory, did not appear at a ceremony at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where other officials were reportedly gathered to pay respects to Kim Il Sung, South Korean news service Newsis reported Tuesday.
Pyongyang’s Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Tuesday top North Korean officials, including the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Chairman Kim Yong Nam, political director Hwang Pyong So, Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju and Party Central Committee Vice Chairman Choe Ryong Hae, were in attendance.
Kim Jong Un’s name was not included on the list, raising speculations on whether he was either not in attendance or was omitted from the list for unknown reasons.
North Korea has also abstained from conducting another nuclear test and launching a long-range rocket from Sohae Satellite Launching Station.
Both the launch pad and the Punggye-ri nuclear site showed signs of continued activity in early October, according to recent analysis.
Kim Jong Un has also been absent at festive events, including a concert that commemorated the 71st anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers’ Party.
Prior to the anniversary U.S. forces stationed in South Korea and Japan, and South Korea’s military, were on high alert for any signs of provocations. The escalated defense posture may have prompted North Korea to rethink more tests, according to the report.
Lack of North Korean activity over the weekend, however, may be temporary as Pyongyang continues to develop its nuclear weapons program.
Japanese network TV Asahi reported on Monday that Kim recently ordered North Korean scientists to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 9,320 miles, and a submarine-launched ballistic missile that can reach 3,100 miles.
TV Asahi reported the statements were obtained from top military officials in North Korea.