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As North Korea gears up for ruling party anniversary, eyes on whether Kim will attend

  • People watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. As North Korea's ruling party prepares to mark its 69th anniversary on Friday, the world will be watching to see if leader Kim will make his first public appearance in more than a month. he letters on the screen read" UN pushes to refer North Korea leader Kim Jong Un to international court. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

    People watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. As North Korea's ruling party prepares to mark its 69th anniversary on Friday, the world will be watching to see if leader Kim will make his first public appearance in more than a month. he letters on the screen read" UN pushes to refer North Korea leader Kim Jong Un to international court. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)  (The Associated Press)

  • A man watches a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. As North Korea's ruling party prepares to mark its 69th anniversary on Friday, the world will be watching to see if leader Kim will make his first public appearance in more than a month. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon).

    A man watches a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. As North Korea's ruling party prepares to mark its 69th anniversary on Friday, the world will be watching to see if leader Kim will make his first public appearance in more than a month. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon).  (The Associated Press)

  • North Korean military personnel march as they visit the statues of late leaders, Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il on Mansudae to mark the 69th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang, North Korea Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT

    North Korean military personnel march as they visit the statues of late leaders, Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il on Mansudae to mark the 69th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang, North Korea Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT  (The Associated Press)

As North Korea's ruling party prepares to mark its 69th anniversary on Friday, the world will be watching to see if leader Kim Jong Un will make his first public appearance in more than a month.

Kim's absence from the public eye, along with suggestions in the North Korean media that he might be ill, has generated a wide range of rumors abroad that all is not well in the secretive and isolated country.

Kim was last was seen in public attending a concert on Sept. 3. Before that, he had been shown walking with a limp.

The Friday event marks the founding of the ruling Worker's Party of Korea.

Kim's absence would not in itself be all that important or unusual — such anniversaries are generally given more weight when they are landmark years. It was not clear how much pomp would be put on for the event Friday. A high-profile celebration is expected for next year's 70th anniversary of the ruling party.

Even so, because the young leader has not been shown in the North Korean media for the past month, his attendance at the event has taken on more meaning.

During a surprise visit to South Korea last week to attend the closing ceremonies of the Asian Games in Incheon, three senior North Korean leaders assured their South Korean counterparts that Kim was healthy, but that has done little to calm the rumors abroad that he was unwell.

Kim missed a meeting of the country's parliament late last month, and was absent again from a gathering this week to mark his late father's election as ruling party head.

Adding to the uncertainty, Kim has not been seen in North Korean media reports greeting the athletes who returned from the Asian Games — though they were given a lavish reception and heavy media coverage when they returned to the capital.