June 28, 2021 10:01
North Korea has nimbly harnessed leader Kim Jong-un's much commented-on weight loss for propaganda purposes.
State TV on Friday wheeled out a man who claimed he had recently seen Kim at a concert. "It broke my heart to see the general secretary so emaciated," the man said. "Everyone's eyes are welling up with tears."
In reality Kim is still vastly obese. But at a Workers Party meeting in mid-June, his first public appearance in about a month, he was visibly less so than before. His cheeks were less puffed and he seemed to have tightened his watch strap by a notch since March.
At 170 cm tall, Kim is believed to have weighed around 140 kg at one time and suffered from various ailments due to his obesity. His wife Ro Sol-ju told visiting U.S. and South Korean officials a few years ago that she worried about his health.
"It appears that Kim Jong-un is trying to show North Koreans that he is skipping meals and working hard in order to overcome the North's food shortage," a source speculated.
Many North Koreans are chronically malnourished. In 2012, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimated the average weight of a North Korean adult at only 52.6 kg.
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