Kim Jong-un: Doctor's take on weight loss revealed by reporter
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Pictures of the slimmed-down 37-year-old caused a stir when they emerged in June, especially given previous fears over his health last year, which in turn triggered rumours that he had died as a result of botched heart surgery. Government officials are insisting Kim, commonly referred to as the “Highest Dignity”, is perfectly healthy, and has in fact lost weight as a result of worrying about his people in the fact of food shortages worsening as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Spreading rumours speculating about his health is regarded as treason by the government, a North Korean insider told the US-backed website Radio Free Asia.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, added: “As stories of health problems related to the Highest Dignity’s weight loss spread among the residents, many of the neighbourhood watch units here in Chongjin made official statements to the people at their weekly meeting, saying that it is a ‘reactionary act’ to talk about the leader’s health.
“The neighbourhood watch units also said the sudden weight loss is not due to a health problem, but rather that he is suffering in solitude for the sake of the country and people in crisis.
Some at the meeting claimed to be ”heartbroken” to learn their leader was suffering alone in the face of the nationwide crisis – but the insider suggested they were only saying what the officials present at the meeting wanted to hear.
Unsurprisingly, given Kim at one point is believed to have tipped the scales at close to 300 pounds, the source suggested some present had considered his weight loss a good thing.
They explained: “This is the first time that authorities have felt the need to officially explain through neighbourhood watch units in every region that the Highest Dignity has no health problems.
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“But on the other hand, some of the residents agreed, saying that Kim’s weight loss would not be a bad thing, as the way he appeared before he lost weight seemed to be more dangerous to his health.”
In an interview aired by state broadcaster KRT in June, one unnamed man said: “Seeing respected general secretary Kim Jong-un looking emaciated breaks our people’s heart so much.
“Everyone is saying that their tears welled up.”
Meanwhile analysts at NK News, a Seoul-based website which monitors North Korea, noted his watch appeared to be fastened more tightly than before around an apparently slimmer wrist.
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Speculation about Kim’s health was rife early last year exploded after he missed the birthday celebrations of state founder Kim Il Sung – his grandfather – on April 15, only to reappear in public in early May.
On that occasion, there were claims he had suffered a cardiac arrest.
More recently, he was pictured with a mysterious bandage on the back of his head.
Talking to Express.co.uk in July, Jim Hoare, a research associate with the Japan and Korea Section at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), agreed that Kim looked “peaky”.
However, he added: “I think one can pretty much take the story of people in tears over KJU weight loss with a large dose of salt designed to show the people’s love of the leader.
“I am also pretty sceptical about long-range diagnosis.
“Both his father and grandfather were said to be dying for years before they did, which I suppose is true of all of us!”
Kim’s unhealthy lifestyle – including a fondness for cheddar cheese and a love of expensive Hennessy cognac – has been well-documented over the years.
Mr Hoare said: “He has led a problematic lifestyle and it shows.
“But while he may have lost weight through illness, I think it might also be through dieting.
“But I am no medical doctor and avoid speculation on this issue.”
Also speaking last month, Kwak Gil Seob, who heads One Korea Centre, a website that specialises in North Korea news, suggested footage of Kim looking significantly slimmer than previously had been aired “to show that Kim Jong-un is losing weight by himself”.
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