June 11, 2021 09:38
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have lost weight in the first public photos published by state media last week after about a month's absence.
The Seoul-based NK News website on Tuesday said Kim is visibly thinner in the photos compared to late April, when he presided over a Workers Party meeting.
He seems to have tightened the strap on his Swiss IWC watch on his left wrist since March, and NK News said his drastic weight loss could signify health problems.
"On the surface, noticeable weight loss may not mean much, but it can provide clues to other information that intelligence collectors look for," it quoted Mike Brodka, a U.S. intelligence officer in South Korea, as saying.
Speculation has it that Kim suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems due to his obesity. His grandfather Kim Il-sung and his father Kim Jong-il both died of a stroke. The National Intelligence Service here told lawmakers in November last year that Kim's weight had increased by 6 to 7 kg each year since he took power.
He might also have gone on a diet. "If a very obese person like Kim Jong-un loses weight, it could be a healthy sign," a doctor said.
The government here denied speculation that Kim is ill. A Unification Ministry official said, "We are monitoring Kim's public activities but there is nothing unusual the matter."
This is not the first time that rumors spread about his health after he disappeared from the radar for extended periods. He also vanished for around 40 days in 2014, when it was reported that he had surgery to remove a cyst from his right ankle.
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