North Korean state media quoted local residents as saying that North Koreans have been crying over the “wasting” of leader Kim Jong-un. In a very unusual broadcast, they rarely admitted foreign speculation about Kim Jong-un’s weight loss.
These comments — in a country that almost always prohibits public discussion of leaders’ health and personal lives — are seen as efforts to increase domestic resistance to Kim Jong-un as he struggles to cope with the growing economic difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Support, some experts say, sanctions imposed due to its nuclear program and natural disasters.
“When we see our people, their hearts hurt the most [Kim’s] Looks haggard,” North Korean national television quoted the unidentified man as saying on Friday. “Everyone said their tears came naturally. “
Judging from the recently published photos, Jin, who is about 1.70 meters (5 feet 8 inches) tall, seems to be thinner. North Korean observers said that his weight was about 140 kg (309 lbs) before, which would make him “very fat”, but he may have lost 10 to 20 kg (22 to 44 lbs) recently.
Analysts said these remarks indicate that the authorities are trying to use Kim Jong Un’s weight change to strengthen loyalty to the regime in times of crisis, and portray him as a “dedicated and hardworking” as the country struggles to cope with the food crisis and other challenges. leader.
The country closed its borders in January last year to protect itself from the pandemic, so trade with Beijing-its economic lifeline-has slowed to a trickle.
“The message from Pyongyang is that Kim Jong Un is a leader who works hard for the people, even to the point where he skips meals and loses weight,” An Zhanil, a researcher from North Korea, told AFP.
North Korea is more isolated than ever after its own coronavirus roadblock, and this month Kim admitted that in a country that has been unable to feed itself for a long time, the food situation is “tight”.
Jenny Town, head of the 38 North project based in the United States, said that it is not clear whether Kim’s weight loss was due to illness or whether he believes it is time to exercise. The intention behind the official media report is unclear. Monitor North Korea.
“They made him wear such unfit clothes, which is a bit weird because the optical system does seem to emphasize his weight loss,” she said.
“This is a major weight loss. His health is very important to the operation and destiny of the country. That’s why people are paying close attention to this matter.”
Since the succession plan is not yet clear, the sudden decline in Kim Jong Un’s health may throw North Korea’s 76-year-old hereditary leadership system into chaos.
Kim Jong-un’s personal life is usually a taboo of North Korean state media—Pyongyang has never even confirmed how many children the 37-year-old has—but he is a very addicted person, and he has been a leader since he became the leader nearly 10 years ago. Has gained weight.
Kim’s father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung are also overweight and heavy smokers. Both died of heart attacks.
Yang Wujin, a professor at the University of Korean Studies, said that Kim’s recent weight loss is unlikely to be a symptom of a serious health problem because he participated in several public events this month.
“No one can really know why he lost weight,” he said. “It is clear from the KCTV footage that the regime wants the world to think that its people love and care about their leader, so much so that they will cry for his thinner appearance.”