Kim Jong Un certainly looked slimmer last weekend when he came out of his last long absence. But it is perhaps the North Korean leader’s Swiss timepiece that provides the clearest evidence that he is watching his weight.
Kim’s still present IWC Schaffhausen Portofino appears to have been tighter around his wrist in the latest photos released by state media, according to an analysis released Tuesday by NK News. The Seoul-based news site compared close-ups of the $ 12,000 watch from previous months to support observations that Kim, 37, had lost weight.
The weight of the North Korean leader has long been followed by spy agencies for clues to the stability of his autocratic and secretive regime, especially since his family has a history of heart disease. The South Korean spy agency told lawmakers in November that Kim weighed around 140 kilograms (309 pounds) and had gained around 50 kilograms since coming to power in 2011.
“Foreign intelligence agencies want to know if Kim Jong Un is healthy enough to remain the leader for a long time,” said Colin Zwirko, senior analytical correspondent for NK News. “What happens behind the scenes if he’s in poor health?” And how does that affect security in the region given that North Korea has nuclear weapons. “
Kim’s health became the subject of a global intrigue during a 20-day absence last year in which he missed the birthday celebrations of his late grandfather and founder of the State, Kim Il Sung. Seoul-based news site Daily NK reported that Kim had undergone “cardiovascular surgery” and, when he finally came out, NK News cited a mark on his wrist as possible evidence to support this theory.
Kim had not been featured in North Korean state media for about a month before announcing on Saturday that he had attended a ruling party meeting on economic issues. The country’s economy has shown little sign of growth this year after its worst contraction in decades as it continues to grapple with the pandemic, US sanctions and lack of trade with China.
Kim appears to be focusing on internal affairs for the time being rather than escalating regional tensions with provocative military measures, South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook said on Wednesday.
(With help from Jeong-Ho Lee and Jon Herskovitz.)