North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wasn't in his customary seat as the country convened its rubber-stamp parliament.

Seoul officials said the absence from Thursday's meeting appeared to be Kim's first since he took power after his father Kim Jong Il died in December 2011.

Kim has not been a presence in state media since attending a Pyongyang concert on Sept. 3. State television showed him limping in July and again earlier this month. South Korean media have speculated that Kim has been ill. There's been no discussion of the absence in the authoritarian North's media.

North Korea's official Korean Central Television says the Supreme People's Assembly approved the promotion of Hwang Pyong So as the vice chairman of the country's powerful National Defense Commission.