Pictures show North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walking without a stick

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea's top newspaper carried pictures on Wednesday of leader Kim Jong Un walking without a stick, apparently showing he has recovered from either an injury or surgery to his leg.

Rodong Sinmun, the official daily of the state's ruling Korean Workers Party, carried a photo of a smiling Mr Kim walking without the cane he was seen using last month.

The picture shows Mr Kim walking to a chair in front of a crowd of soldiers for a photo opportunity. Another picture showed Mr Kim standing and clapping his hands.

Following an extended absence from the public eye, Mr Kim re-surfaced with a walking stick in mid-October.

His nearly six-week absence triggered a frenzy of speculation about his health and grip on power.

North Korea's state TV at the time carried still photos of Mr Kim walking with a black cane but aired no matching video footage.

Before his prolonged absence, state television had shown an overweight Mr Kim walking with a pronounced limp.

Since assuming power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in 2011, Mr Kim Jong Un has cut a very public figure, with state media showing him engaged in a seemingly endless series of trips to military units and factories across the country where he gives what is officially known as "field guidance".

His sudden disappearance, which began in early September, quickly became a source of rumour and speculation.

This went into overdrive after he missed two noteworthy political events he would normally have been expected to attend.

Some reports even suggested he had been ousted in a coup.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.