09/26/2014, 00.00
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Pyongyang: Kim Jong-un's absence from Supreme People's Assembly due to gout

A visibly limping young dictator last appeared in public on 3 September. This is due, a source says, to gout from overeating and too much drink, like his father and grandfather before him.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - In a country where the minimum daily food ration per person dropped to 250 grams, and where half of the population survives on less than $ 30 a month, a head of state with gout is nothing new.

Kim Jong-un, North Korea's young dictator, appears to be suffering from gout, a condition from which both his father and grandfather suffered made worse in all three by too much food and drink, said a source speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

Speculation has been rife that Kim might be ill because of his absence from this year's second session of the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's rubber-stamp parliament, on Thursday, a view bolstered by the fact that in his last public appearance on 3 September, he was seen walking with a limp (pictured).

Since his rise to power, Kim has visibly gained weight. His health is believed to have deteriorated due to frequent drinking and overeating.

"Kim Jong-un is suffering from gout, which is why he is limping on both legs," the source said. "I understand that he is suffering from gout along with hyperuricemia, hyperlipidemia, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure."

Known since antiquity, gout is the result of a build-up of uric acid in the blood that crystallises in the toe area.

Historically, it has been referred to as "the king of diseases and the disease of kings" or "rich man's disease" because it has often been caused by obesity, which results from a high-calorie diet, drinking, that only the wealthiest of individuals could afford in the past.

Genetic factors also play a large role. As the source noted, gout runs in Kim's family. Both his grandfather, the North's founding leader Kim Il-sung, and his father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, suffered from the disease.

Another source familiar with the Communist nation claimed that North Korean doctors recently made secret visits to Germany, Switzerland and other European countries to find ways to treat Kim.

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