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‘Slim’ Jong Un?

  • Published at 08:46 am July 8th, 2021
Kim Jong Un
File photo: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the fourth-day sitting of the 3rd Plenary Meeting of 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang, North Korea in this image released June 18, 2021 by the country's Korean Central News Agency Reuters

Latest South Korean intelligence update says the North Korean leader has lost up to 44 pounds

Amid mixed remarks about the health condition of Kim Jong Un, a South Korean lawmaker briefed by a spy agency came up with an update--the North Korean leader lost up to 44 pounds.

However, 37-year-old dictator has no major health issues affecting his rule Kim Byung-kee, a lawmaker briefed by the spy agency, told reporters Thursday, according to Bloomberg.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) estimated that Kim recently lost between 10 and 20 kilograms (44 pounds), he said. 

"If there is an abnormality in his health, there should be signs that drugs are being imported to the clinic that's in charge of Kim's health, but that was not detected," the lawmaker said.

Kim, he claimed, still hosts "hours-long meetings" and there's nothing unusual about how he walks.

Reports claiming Kim’s apparent weight loss surfaced in late last month, after foreign analysts noted in early June that the autocratic leader appeared to have lost a noticeable amount of weight.

The state media did not disclose what had led to the weight loss.

When Kim reappeared in state media in June after not being seen in public for almost a month, analysts at NK News, a Seoul-based website that monitors North Korea, noted that his watch appeared to be fastened more tightly than before around an apparently slimmer wrist.

Also Read - N Koreans worry over 'emaciated' Kim Jong Un

A rare mention in North Korean state media of leader Kim’s health could be intended to head off speculation and play up shared sacrifice amid food shortages, analysts said recently.

Given Kim's tight grip on power in North Korea - and the uncertainty over any plans for a successor - international media, spy agencies, and specialists closely watch his health.

It is unclear whether Kim’s weight loss is due to illness, or whether he decided that it was time to get fit, and the intention behind the state media coverage is unknown, said Jenny Town, director of the U.S.-based 38 North project, which monitors North Korea.

“It is a little strange that they would show him in such ill-fitting clothes, as the optics do seem to emphasise his weight loss,” she said.

Also Read - North Korea's Kim chides officials for unspecified pandemic lapse

Kim has acknowledged a “tense” food situation that could worsen if this year’s crops fail, exacerbating economic problems amid strict self-imposed border and movement restrictions that have slowed trade to a trickle.

Early last year speculation about Kim’s health exploded after he missed the birth anniversary celebrations of state founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, only to reappear in public in early May.

The South Korean intelligence agency in mid-2016 reported that Kim gained an enormous amount of weight, he can't sleep and fears for his life.

He was 90kg in 2012--but weighed 130kg in July 2016, reported the NIS.

In 2014, state media reported that Kim was suffering from "discomfort", after a prolonged period out of the public eye.

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