North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sparked more speculation about his health after recent photographs suggested he had lost weight.
Kim, whose heavy figure has sparked worldwide interest since becoming the country’s leader nearly a decade ago, looked noticeably thinner in images released by state media on Saturday, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
NK News, who analyzed photos of Kim speaking at a meeting of the ruling party’s political bureau late last week – his first public appearance in a month – said he appeared to have lost a “significant amount of weight ”.
On Tuesday, the Seoul-based website posted enlarged images suggesting Kim, who is believed to be 37, tightened the strap of her favorite watch, estimated to be worth $ 12,000.
Photos appear to show her left wrist is considerably thinner than in similar images taken in November 2020 and March of this year.
Kim, a heavy smoker whose father, Kim Jong-il, died of a suspected heart attack in December 2011, had health problems that observers attribute to his weight and lifestyle.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers last year it believed Kim weighed 140kg (22nd) and had gained an average of 6-7kg per year since coming to power in late 2011, NK said. News.
It was not clear from the website report whether Kim’s altered appearance was the result of illness or a conscious decision to lose weight.
An analyst told NK News that the leader may have decided to lose weight to improve his position at home. The country is grappling with food shortages and an economic crisis triggered by a dramatic drop in trade with China during the coronavirus pandemic, a series of natural disasters and international sanctions imposed in response to the regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs .
Kim’s health is a frequent source of speculation. In 2014, he disappeared from sight for almost six weeks before reappearing with a cane. Days later, the South Korean spy agency claimed he had undergone surgery to remove a cyst from his ankle.
A three-week absence last spring sparked rumors he fell seriously ill after undergoing heart surgery, with some reports suggesting he had died. A more plausible theory – that he had simply isolated himself with his family as a precaution during the pandemic – emerged after Kim reappeared, apparently in good health.
North Korea continues to insist it has found no cases of the virus after sealing its borders with China and Russia and halting air travel.