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Gov't refrains from commenting on Kim Jong-un's apparent weight loss

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears in a news report by North Korea's KCTV on June 5. Yonhap
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears in a news report by North Korea's KCTV on June 5. Yonhap

By Yoon Ja-young

The Ministry of Unification has refrained from commenting on a recent media report that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have lost weight ― news that sparked speculation about his health.

According to Yonhap News Agency in Seoul, a ministry official told reporters Thursday that it analyzes Kim's photos every time new ones appear in North Korea's state media. But the official said the ministry's analysis of Kim's health is not something it would make public.

The comment comes following a recent report by NK News, an English-language news site specializing on North Korea, which said June 8 that Kim Jong-un looked thinner based on an image released by North Korea's Korean Central Television (KCTV), in which he is presiding over a June 4 politburo meeting.


The report focused on his wrist, on which he was wearing what seemed to be a Portofino Automatic watch by Swiss company IWC Schaffhausen
. It noted that the length of the strap past the buckle appeared longer than in previous pictures, taken last November and March, indicating a slimming wrist.

The report added that the intelligence agencies of South Korea and the United States were closely watching Kim's weight and health.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears in a news report by North Korea's KCTV on Feb. 9. Yonhap
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears in a news report by North Korea's KCTV on Feb. 9. Yonhap

South Korea's National Intelligence Service reported to lawmakers in November 2020 that Kim weighed 90 kilograms (198 pounds) in August 2012, but had then gained on average of 6 to 7 kilograms each year, surpassing 140 kilograms (308 pounds) as of then.

Kim is believed to be 37 years old and around 170 centimeters in height, which, at that weight, makes him "obese."

He could have lost the weight intentionally to get healthier, but the sudden loss could also be due to a change in his health, NK News noted. It cited experts' assessment that Kim is likely to be at high risk for cardiovascular disease, and added that there is a history of heart issues in his family.

His grandfather Kim Il-sung died at 82 and his father Kim Jong-il
died at 69, both reportedly of heart attacks.


Yoon Ja-young yjy@koreatimes.co.kr


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