Explained: Why Kim Jong Un’s weight issue is a talking point across the world

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un disappeared from the public eye for about a month. When he reappeared, the state-run media and people of the country started expressing concerns about his weight loss.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at a meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang.(Reuters Photo)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at a meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang.(Reuters Photo)
Published on Jun 28, 2021 09:26 AM IST
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Byhindustantimes.com | Written by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s weight has always been a talking point around the world. He disappeared from the public eyes for nearly a month, and resurfaced in June, but this time, a lot slimmer.

The latest buzz around Kim’s weight started after an unnamed resident of North Korean capital Pyongyang said on tightly controlled state media that people “were most heartbroken when they saw the emaciated figure of the respected comrade general”. The man added that the people’s tears came out naturally.

The report came out after Kim returned on June 4, looking noticeably thinner. The media in South Korea, which keeps a hawkish eye on what is happening inside the neighbouring country, showed the watch strap tightly tied around the waist of the North Korean leader, which, it said, appeared thinner.

The heart issues of Kim family

The issue is a talking point as the world looks for clues about his grip on the country, especially since his family has a history of heart disease.

Kim (at 5ft 8) weighed over 140 kg a few months ago. After his latest appearance, the South Korean media is claiming that he lost around 20 kg. The 37-year-old is a chain smoker, fuelling further speculation about his health, given the fact that he has not officially chosen his successor.

The father of Kim, who took over as North Korea’s supreme leader in 2011, died of a massive heat attack. Kim Jong II became the leader of North Korea in 1994 after his father passed away due to heart attack. Kim Il-Sung had ruled the country since he founded it in 1948.

The reason for the world’s concern

North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme has been an intractable problem for the West, especially the United States, given the fact that the tiny country has severed its ties from the world.

The hermit country imposed further curbs due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), with Kim claiming a few weeks ago that there is not a single case of the infection in North Korea.

The US wants to tackle North Korea’s nuclear programme, and the future of the country after Kim Jong Un.

Kim’s disappearance

Before the month-long disappearance, Kim was away from the public eye for six weeks in 2014. That was the longest he stayed away from the public gaze.

When he came back, Kim was seen walking with the help of a cane, raising speculation that he was suffering from gout.

Early last year, speculation about Kim’s health exploded after he missed the birth anniversary celebrations of state founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, only to reappear in public in early May.

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