North Koreans are worried about ‘emaciated’ Kim Jong-un, say media reports

·2-min read
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks at a meeting of the Workers’ Party of Korea earlier this month (REUTERS)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks at a meeting of the Workers’ Party of Korea earlier this month (REUTERS)

A few days after pictures showed North Korea’s Kim Jong-un had lost weight, people in the country have said they are worried and “heartbroken” to see him looking emaciated, according to state media reports.

After watching video footage of the North Korean leader, an unidentified Pyongyang citizen was quoted as saying by state broadcaster KRT: “Seeing respected general secretary [Kim Jong-un] looking emaciated breaks our people’s heart so much.”

“Everyone is saying that their tears welled up,” he said, according to Reuters.

While the clip could not be verified independently, Reuters said that residents of Pyongyang seen in the video aired were watching a musical concert attended by Mr Kim.

Speculation about the North Korean leader’s health has been rife since earlier this month when photos released by state media showed him looking significantly thinner.

It’s not the first time questions have been raised over Mr Kim’s health. When he missed anniversary celebrations of state founder Kim Il Sung in April last year, there were rumours he was in “great danger” after heart surgery had gone wrong. He finally appeared in public view three weeks later, putting the rumours to rest.

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Analysts following North Korea said there was likely “propaganda value” in Mr Kim looking slimmer at the same time as there are food shortages in the country.

Mr Kim this month admitted his country was facing a “tense” food situation caused in part by the Covid-19 pandemic and in part by the flooding due to typhoons last year.

While North Korea claims there has not been a single case of Covid-19 in the country, Mr Kim has imposed strict anti-virus measures which have caused a strain on the economy.

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