New photos of Kim Jong-un spark speculation about health

·News Reporter
·2-min read

There has been more speculation over the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Mr Kim was pictured attending a meeting with senior party officials in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on Monday, according to photos released by the North Korean government.

The North Korean leader, who has rarely been seen so far in 2021, appears to have lost weight.

Mike Brodka, an intelligence officer for US Special Operations Command in South Korea, told Seoul-based NK News, it had not gone unnoticed.

“It may be a simple matter of a healthy lifestyle change or a more complex issue,” he told the publication.

Kim Jong-un is pictured in February on the left. He is pictured again on the right on Monday.
Photos of Kim Jong-un in February (left) and pictured on Monday (right) suggest the North Korean leader has lost weight. Source: AAP

Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, added if Mr Kim intentionally lost weight for health reasons it likely gives Japan and South Korea confidence “he will be running the show”.

NK News also published photos showing Mr Kim has tightened the band on his watch between November last year to June 5 also suggesting he has lost weight.

Kim Jong-un during a meeting in June. The photos suggest he may have lost weight, sparking speculation about his health.
Mr Kim's most recent appearance has not gone unnoticed by US intelligence. Source: Reuters

Further speculation about Kim's health

The North Korean leader’s health has often sparked speculation and in April last year there were some reports Mr Kim was either in a coma or dead.

Mr Kim had not been seen for weeks including anniversary celebrations for his father, Kim Il Sun.

Daily NK, a Seoul-based website, reported Mr Kim was recovering from a cardiovascular procedure in April last year citing one unnamed source in North Korea.

South Korean government officials and a Chinese official with the Liaison Department challenged subsequent reports suggesting Mr Kim was in grave danger after surgery.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends at a meeting of Central Committee of Worker’s Party of Korea in Pyongyang.
The North Korean leader at a meeting of Central Committee of Worker’s Party of Korea in Pyongyang in February. Source: AAP

Japan’s defence minister Taro Kono suggested during a media briefing with Japanese Foreign Correspondents Club last year Mr Kim was in poor health.

However, Mr Kono also theorised Mr Kim may have been laying low to avoid catching Covid-19.

Mr Kim also reportedly handed his sister, Kim Yo-kong, some powers in August with Chang Song-min, a former aide to South Korea’s late president Kim Dae-jung, telling local media outlets the North Korean leader was “in a coma, but his life has not ended”.

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