Korea Central News Agency / Korea News Service, Archive / AP
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s health has long been a source of morbid fascination with rival South Korea, which is in the shadow of Kim’s 1.2 million-strong army and growing arsenal. of missiles with nuclear weapons.
Have you gained even more weight? Are you struggling to breathe after relatively short walks? And that cane? Why was that important state anniversary missed?
Now the 37-year-old is once again facing new speculation in the south about his health. But this time around, it’s because it’s noticeably slimmer.
Kim’s health is important in Seoul, Washington, Tokyo and other world capitals because he has not publicly anointed a successor to control an advancing nuclear program targeting the United States and its allies, if incapacitated. North Korea, which has never opened up about the inner workings of its leadership, has over the past year shut itself in even more to protect itself against the coronavirus pandemic.
In recent images from state media, including those released Wednesday, Kim appeared to have lost a great deal of weight. The strap of his elegant watch is tighter and his face is slimmer. Some observers say that Kim, who is about 170 centimeters (5 feet 8 inches) tall and previously weighed 140 kilograms (308 pounds), may have lost between 10 and 20 kilograms (22 to 44 pounds).
Kim’s apparent weight loss is more likely an attempt to improve his health, rather than a sign of illness, according to Hong Min, a senior analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.
“If he had health problems, he would not have come out in public to call the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party,” a major political conference this week that is expected to last two to three days, Hong said.
Kim, known for heavy drinking and smoking, comes from a family with a history of heart problems. His father and grandfather, who ruled North Korea before him, died of heart problems. Experts have said that your weight could increase the possibility of cardiovascular disease.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it has no information to share about Kim’s health. Her slimmer appearance has been the focus of great interest in South Korea, with the media publishing photos of her past and current appearances.
Seo Yu-Seok of the Seoul-based Institute of North Korean Studies said that the North’s recent creation of a first secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party, No. 2 Labor, could have been related to the possible health problems for Kim. He said Kim may have allowed the establishment of the post at the behest of senior officials, but has yet to appoint anyone to the post because it could loosen his grip on power.
“If Kim faces a real health problem and is in a condition where he cannot express his views, even if he is not dead, who will make the decision to appoint the first secretary?” Seo said.
When global speculation erupted about Kim’s health last year after he missed the commemoration of his late grandfather’s birthday, some analysts speculated that Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, would be the next to inherit the power of her. brother. Others said that collective leadership was also possible.