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North Korea leader on TV without cane but still limping in sign of recovery

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[November 06, 2014]  SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea's state television showed leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday walking with a limp but without a cane in the clearest indication yet that he was recovering from an unconfirmed health problem that had kept him sidelined for more than a month.

Kim had been seen without a walking stick in still pictures issued by the North's official media this week, after he emerged in mid-October from a long absence, ending speculation over his health and grip on power in the secretive state.

South Korea's intelligence agency said last week that Kim, who rules North Korea as supreme leader, was likely to have undergone surgery on his left ankle to treat complications stemming from a cyst.

On Thursday North Korea's state television showed the 31-year-old Kim attending a meeting of military commanders, walking on stage without the cane he had been using to support himself since Oct. 14.

He appeared relaxed in the television footage, speaking to military aides and waiving to officers gathered at the meeting, which official media said had taken place earlier this week.

Kim, who has visibly gained weight since coming to power after his father died of a heart attack in 2011, had been seen walking with a limp since an event with officials in July.

He then disappeared from official media reports after a news report showing him at a concert with his wife on Sept. 3.

(Reporting by Jack Kim)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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