Are Kim Jong-un's Nocturnal Habits a Sign of Ill Health?

  • By Kim Eun-joong

    March 27, 2023 12:42

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is often reported in the state media to be burning the midnight oil to stress the portly dictator's sacrifices for his nation, but that may be a sign of ill health.
    The official Rodong Sinmun daily in an article last Saturday claimed Kim's "concept of the day is different from ordinary people's," and it seems he rides bleary-eyed officials just as hard.
    It quoted a senior Workers Party official as saying, "People consider their business day done in the evening or at midnight, but [Kim] sees today as lasting until at 5 a.m. the following day for business to be carried out." 
    The daily cited a visit Kim made to a fish processing factory on the east coast after 2 a.m. and hailed him as a "great patriarch who postpones his rest and sacrifices himself." Kim himself is quoted as claiming, "Since I was young, I have become accustomed to working through the night, and now it has become the rule of life." 
    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watches a missile test through binoculars, in this photo from the Rodong Sinmun on March 24.
    But the National Intelligence Service here blames his sleeplessness on health problems. It told lawmakers in 2016 that Kim worries about his safety and has problems sleeping.
    A recent photo of the 39-year-old leader shows him with more white hair, prompting speculation that he might be suffering from excessive stress or diabetes.
    Nam Sung-wook at Korea University said, "The aim may be to depict a leader who burns the midnight oil, but there is a strong possibility that he developed insomnia as a side effect of high blood pressure and heart problems."
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