Kim Jong-un health crisis: ‘Emaciated’ NK leader sparks panic with dramatic weight loss


    The unidentified resident of Pyongyang, quoted on the country’s tightly controlled state media, claimed he and fellow residents of the Hermit State were “heartbroken” after watching recent video footage of Kim. The rare public comment on Kim’s health come after foreign analysts noted in early June that the previously portly leader, who is believed to be 37, appeared to have slimmed down significantly, having at one stage topped 300 pounds in weight.

    In an interview aired by state broadcaster KRT on Friday, the man said: “Seeing respected general secretary Kim Jong-un looking emaciated breaks our people’s heart so much.

    “Everyone is saying that their tears welled up.”

    In the clip, which could not be independently verified, Pyongyang residents were seen watching a big screen on the street showing a concert attended by Kim and party officials after a plenary meeting of their Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

    The broadcast did not provide any details on what had led to the weight loss.

    When Kim reappeared in state media in June after not being seen in public for almost a month, analysts at NK News, a Seoul-based website that monitors North Korea, noted his watch appeared to be fastened more tightly than before around an apparently slimmer wrist.

    Given Kim’s tight grip on power in North Korea – and the uncertainty over any plans for a successor – international media, spy agencies, and specialists closely watch his health.

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    Also last year, footage emerged of Kim smoking heavily during footage supposedly showing him during a visit to a factory in Pyongyang.

    While making it clear he was not talking about anyone in particular, Nick Hopkinson, chairman of Action on Smoking Health (ASH) told “Whoever they are, quitting smoking is one of the best things a person can do to protect their health and the health of those around them.

    “Quitting smoking quickly reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes as well as improving lung health and reducing the risk of cancer and serious complications in conditions like diabetes.”

    In the past, Kim is believed to have had a particularly unhealthy lifestyle, being especially partial to cheddar cheese, and in 2017 is thought to have spent £700,000 on Hennessy’s cognac.

    In 2014, state media reported that Kim was suffering from “discomfort”, after a prolonged period out of the public eye.

    Concerns about the state of Kim’s health likely stem from the uncertainty over what would happen should he die.

    A report published on the 38 North website last year, written by Chris Steinitz, Ken Gause and Elizabeth Yang, said: “If Kim Jong-un were to fall seriously ill or die, where it happens and who has situational awareness makes all the difference.

    “If it were to occur in public, the fallout would be hard to control and a power struggle would likely be inevitable.

    “If it were to occur in private, however, those around Kim could begin to make preparations. Only a limited circle of players around Kim would have initial knowledge of the situation.

    “This inner circle begins with his personal security detail and the Kim family.”

    Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, is often talked up as his most likely successor.


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