North Korea watchers say impending national celebrations in the Stalinist state could provide key indications about the status of missing dictator Kim Jong-un.
The communist country's 'Dear Leader' has not been seen in public since 3 September, but the anniversary this Friday of North Korea's formation is an event Kim is expected to attend - if he still can.
But Friday's anniversary of the nation's birth in 1948 is a significant occasion for comrades and Kim has marked it previously by paying a solemn visit to a mausoleum which houses his father's and grandfather's pickled remains.
Curtis Melvin of the Korea Institute in Washington DC said: "Should he fail to appear, it will fuel speculation that the young North Korean leader has fallen on hard times of one kind or another.
"The longer he remains out of the public eye, the more uncertainty about him, and the status of his regime, will grow," he told Reuters.
Should Kim not appear on Friday then it will fuel speculation that power has shifted away from him at the summit of the party.
One regime watcher floated the possibility Kim has been put under house arrest and is being detained by an unknown faction.
Dutch Professor of North Korea Studies Remco Breuker told broadcaster ABC: "We're not sure where he is, or what's happening. We don't know whether he's in the hospital or whether he's been put under house arrest."
The regime has only commented only once upon the leader's absence. A spokesman said he was suffering "discomfort."