North Korean state television aired a rare commentary on Kim Jong-un’s “emaciated” state after images of the lean autocrat earlier this month sparked international speculation about his health.
In a KCTV report, an anonymous resident of the capital Pyongyang said everyone was shocked by their weight loss. “Seeing our respected Secretary General looking emaciated is what breaks the hearts of our people the most,” he said. “Everyone is talking about how their tears immediately fell. “
Comments on the personal life of the Kim Dynasty are normally off limits, leading analysts to suggest the post was calculated to portray the reclusive leader’s changing physique as a sign of his dedication to the nation at a time of food scarcity. and economic crisis.
The impoverished, nuclear-weaponized country has been increasingly isolated after sealing its borders to protect its ailing healthcare system from the pandemic, causing the food, fuel and fertilizer trade to plummet with the Neighboring China.
Earlier this month, Kim officially acknowledged at a senior leaders meeting that the food situation is now becoming “tense” after grain targets were also affected by last year’s typhoons.
The unusually outspoken admission coincided with a surprise reduction in her normally robust physique, revealed in footage that showed her clothes were noticeably looser and her watchband tighter than before.
Known as a heavy smoker and drinker, the young leader has been obese for a long time, and according to a South Korean secret service assessment, he would have piled some 50 kg between 2012 and 2020.
His health is closely watched by the international community as his sudden death would raise critical questions about the country’s succession and stability and its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
His sudden weight drop this month has added to concerns about serious potential health issues, but the latest footage may offer an alternate explanation for an attempt to portray the image of a hardworking leader and empathetic towards his struggles. people.
“The focus on her weight loss might just represent a shift to a healthier lifestyle for Kim and a way to assert domestic control,” said Edward Howell, senior lecturer in politics and Korea expert. North at the University of Oxford.
He said it was unlikely that Kim would have chaired a recent meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party committee if he was seriously ill.
“Kim made it clear that North Korea is facing severe food shortages and people need to prepare for difficult times. He admitted the failure of his five-year economic plan earlier in the year, ”he said.
“A thinner leader can also strengthen domestic legitimacy in the eyes of the people: he can be seen as a man of the people, even if the reality is far from it. “