North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was seen limping again in December 2016, signalling that his ankle problem may have resurfaced. In footage released by state-run outlets in North Korea on Wednesday (18 January), Kim was seen relying heavily on his right leg while taking a flight of stairs.

Kim's limping footage – from a shoe factory visit – was aired on Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station.

Local reports suggest the leader was applying more weight on his right leg while walking, which led some to speculate that his past ankle problem could have relapsed.

Kim was first seen limping in July 2014 in footage aired at the time, where he was seen favouring his right leg. Following the telecast, there was speculation that he had undergone surgery as he was not seen in public for six weeks during September and October. The North Korean leader was later seen walking with the help of a stick in images released by state-run media outlets.

Seoul's spy agency had then said that a European doctor had performed surgery on Kim's left ankle, although not much information was available from the secretive country.

"The wealth and prosperity of our socialism is thanks to the painstaking efforts of our marshal, who keeps lighting the path for the people, like the flicker of a flame, despite suffering discomfort," the documentary's voice-over said referring to Kim's ankle problem earlier.

However, the South Korean unification ministry said it is too early to discuss the latest problem. The ministry's spokesperson Jeong Jong-hee said: At the current stage, it is premature to talk about the state of Kim's health. There is a need to closely watch related information."