Posted with permission from The Korea Times

Should the world be worried if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "disappears" from the reclusive state's media for more than a week?

Korean news outlet the JoongAng Ilbo's recent report suggests it should.

The report showed that when Kim disappeared from North Korean media for more than a week a major provocation, or "jaw-dropping" incident, tended to happen. Related events were the surprising execution of Kim's uncle Jang Song-thaek and military top brass, ballistic missile firings and an underground nuclear test.

Kim has gone missing from the media for more than a week 27 times since he inherited power from his father Kim Jong-il in 2011 -- 10 times in 2012, seven in 2013, once in 2014, none in 2015, four in 2016 and five so far this year.

Kim recently disappeared for 13 days before the firing of the "Hwasong 14" intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4.

His last exposure in the hermit state's media before that was June 20, when he visited a dental hygiene product factory.

The same lack of exposure was seen during past military provocations.

On May 14, when North Korea fired the "Hwasong 12," a new intermediate-range missile, Kim had not appeared for eight days.

On Feb. 7, 2016, the country fired the "Kwangmyongsong 4" satellite, which was viewed by many as a cover for testing its ICBM technology. Kim was missing from the media for nine days.

On Sep. 9, 2016, just before North Korea's fifth nuclear test, Kim was not seen for six days.

"Considering the North Korean media reported that Kim Jong-un personally looked after the military provocation, it seems that he was focused on personally overseeing and controlling the missions," Jeon Hyun-joon, director of the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Research Institute, told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The same could be said for other game-changing events in North Korea.

On Dec. 12, 2013, when Kim's uncle Jang Song-thaek was executed, Kim had not been seen for eight days.

On July 2012, when Chief of the General Staff Ri Yong-ho was presumed executed, Kim was missing for seven days.

"Beside from the 40 days Kim disappeared in September 2013, for an alleged leg injury, Kim's disappearance from local media for more than a week was followed by a crucial event inside North Korea," Jeon said. "Therefore, we should check every possible scenario if Kim becomes absent for a long period of time."