In recent months, news has revealed that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un appears to have lost a lot of weight. It’s unclear exactly what Kim did to lose the weight, although those watching North Korea have been following the situation for clues as to what this means for Kim’s position.
Observers believe that if Kim lost weight due to a healthier lifestyle, it is considered good for his strength, but if he is battling some kind of disease that caused the weight loss, then the opposite is true.
Now there is something else in the North Korean media that talks about weight issues, although nothing has to do with Kim Jong-un.
NK News reported this week that North Korean state media recently broadcast a cartoon “criticizing a friend for being overweight.” The cartoon shows the girl in “an apparent food coma” as a result of apparent overeating.
The article adds that while many people in North Korea are currently suffering from hunger, due to coronavirus-related shortages, obesity is a growing problem among the North Korean elite class.
While the North Korean regime generally puts a positive spin on events in that country, it has been very open about the recent famine. Comparisons have been made with both the 1994 famine in North Korea and the previous “Hard March”. However, the nation has mainly rejected help from international agencies, including with regard to vaccines.
Human Rights Watch researcher Lina Yoon said North Korea is “in crisis.”
“There has been virtually no food entering the country from China for almost two months now,” a missionary told Yoon. “There are so many more beggars, some people have starved to death in the border area and there is no soap, toothpaste or batteries.”
“It has become more and more difficult to learn the truth about what is happening to ordinary people, but there is no doubt that the situation is dire,” Yoon said.
“Official trade data gives a glimpse of the dire economic situation of the North Korean people,” Yoon said. “Trade with China in 2020 fell by almost 81%, after already huge declines in 2018, after the extension of United Nations sanctions against the proliferation of arms. The government significantly reduced imports of staple foods and other essentials from China in August and halted almost all imports, including all food and medicine, in October, saying COVID-19 can be spread by migratory birds and animals, snow and “yellow dust” blowing into the country from China. These shocks were accompanied by severe floods that hit the country between June and September, destroying crops, roads and bridges, further compromising agricultural production.
Stephen Silver, Technology Writer for National Interest, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic who also contributes to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Revoir and splice today. Co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.