May 27, 2019 11:39
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has gone to ground for more than two weeks after overseeing a couple of missile tests. North Korean leaders often disappear from view at times when the paranoid regime senses a threat of outside attacks.
But some pundits speculate that Kim may simply be ill, judging by his disheveled appearance during his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month and recent photos showing him more portly than ever before.
Before he vanished from sight, Kim had appeared in public on average once every three days, or 19 times after his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in late February collapsed.
But his face was seen turning bright red during his meeting with Putin last month, and he seemed to be panting heavily during a speech. One source said, "Kim Jong-un's face and neck area appeared swollen, and he seems to have gained more weight." Cho Kyung-hwan at Korea University, said, "Flushing can be a sign of worsening hyperlipidemia and diabetes."
One source said there are rumors among North Korea's elite that Kim's health is deteriorating due to diabetes. Shin Hyun-young at Myongji Hospital said, "Kim is in his mid-30s and his conditions could worsen quickly without proper care. He is particularly at risk because nobody would dare give him advice on his living habits."
There are also rumors that Kim has been binging on food and alcohol due to stress after his failed summit with Trump. One North Korean defector, who used to be a high-ranking official in the North, said, "Kim always drank heavily, but there are rumors nowadays that he drinks alone until he passes out."
But other pundits speculate that Kim has hunkered down with top officials to come up with a strategy to break the current impasse in negotiations to ease international sanctions.
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