In a striking report, the North Korean state television has recognised the recent weight loss of dictator Kim Jong-un. On the rigorously censored station, a conversation came by with a citizen who said to be worried.
“The whole people are deeply saddened to see our respected Secretary-General so emaced,” said the man on the street in response to images of Kim. “Everyone says they have eyes full of tears.”
When North Korean television showed footage of Kim at the beginning of June after a month of absence, outsiders noticed that the generally bulky leader has lost a lot. In South Korea, it was speculated that he lost maybe 10 to 20 kilos of his weight of 140 kilos.
The fact that North Korean television is now dealing with the leader‘s slimming is striking: speculation about Kim’s health is popular among opponents, but is not tolerated in the country itself.
Sick? Diet? Famine?
However, the state channel didn‘t say anything about why Kim lost their own. So it’s unclear whether he has a debilitating disease among the members, or simply decided that he wanted to lose weight.
“The private life and health of the leader is the closest part of the most mysterious regime on Earth. The regime has hardly ever commented”, says freelance journalist and Korea expert Casper van der Veen.
Some Korean connoisseurs argue that state television had to name the change because Kim‘s appearance has changed quite a bit. The party’s voice tube may want to link to the country‘s famine, as proof that even the leader has to tighten the belt.
It could indeed be that the leader’s weight loss is used as propaganda, says Van der Veen. After taking office, Kim became much thicker in a short period of time, now he lost weight relatively quickly.
“The state television often has supposedly spontant conversations with citizens on the streets. They‘re totally scripted. This quote is a subtle way to inspire sympathy for Kim Jong-un. But we can say with certainty that his weight loss has nothing to do with food shortages. It’s not like he‘s hungry himself.”
During the country’s famine in the 90s, it was said that the great leader Kim Jong-il would “eat a rice ball only occasionally”. Van der Veen: “That could be a precedent. But this time it‘s not explicitly mentioned that everyone needs to moderate and that the leader is participating.”
Penalties and Mismanagement
North Korea has suffered severe UN sanctions and mismanagement of agriculture for years. This year, in an unusually realistic evaluation, Kim admitted that his economic policy had failed. That knee fall would be meant to take up his own country’s image.
Last year, North Korea was also hard hit by the consequences of the covid-19-pandemic, although the country maintains that no case of the disease has been detected.