North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un appears to have slimmed down considerably amid ongoing rumors that he is struggling with health problems the state refuses to acknowledge publicly.
Kim, who came to power just over 10 years ago when he was in his 20s, used to go about with an appearance more consistent with one who has fattened himself all his life on the suffering of the brutally repressed North Korean people. But this week, as he addressed a year-end meeting of the nation’s ruling party, he cut a noticeably trimmer figure.
Kim was attending the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea in late December, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of his succeeding his father, Kim Jong Il.
On Friday, he gave closing remarks that were taped and released by official state media on Saturday, Reuters reported.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un commemorated his 10th year in power with a speech that mentioned tractor factories and school uniforms more than nuclear weapons https://t.co/hsMVfqYMYV pic.twitter.com/dcSaaZCiEx
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 1, 2022
His speech focused mostly on rural development, improving the standard of living for the North Korean people and combating “non-socialist practices,” according to Reuters. Kim underscored the nation’s current food shortage crisis and avoided the topic of nuclear arms and tensions with foreign powers like the U.S.
North Korean officials have already offered up an explanation for their leader’s svelte look, according to The Telegraph. It’s apparently because this third-generation dictator whose starving citizens have long lived in abject poverty is now eating less “for the sake of the country.”
Right. He doesn’t care enough to respect his populace’s most basic human rights, but he does care enough to exercise a bit of portion control out of solidarity with the people suffering under his leadership.
We are, of course, expected to believe that Kim’s slim-down has nothing to do with his health, as has been the case since this summer.
In August, Kim appeared thinner and sporting a mysterious bandage on the back of his head, both of which prompted another wave of speculation that he is battling poor health.
Reports to this effect began to circulate in spring 2020, when rumors arose that he had undergone heart surgery or even that he’d died and, I suppose, been replaced by a doppelganger.
The 37-year-old dictator used to weigh over 300 pounds, according to the New York Post, and estimates from South Korean intelligence reported in August put his weight loss at about 44 pounds. Considering his looks now, that loss increased in the five months since then.
Whatever the case, the calories he forsook are hardly likely to offset the estimated 860,000 tons of food that North Korea currently needs as coronavirus lockdowns, sanctions and infrastructural disruptions fuel a severe food shortage.
The Telegraph reported that in July, Pyongyang told citizens the crisis would continue for three years, while Kim told them in October to expect less food until the nation reopens its border with China in 2025.
So just consider what seems more likely: Is the dictator’s weight loss due to sincere sympathy for the subjects of his authoritarian rule or rather to a health crisis, likely thanks to the extravagant lifestyle of an autocratic heir, that North Korean counterintelligence is going to work to ensure is never made known to the public?