North Korean television broadcast an unusual comment from a local on Kim Jong Un’s “thin” physique, a startling remark in a country where any mention of the leader’s privacy and state of health is prohibited.
According to analysts, this remark reflects the authorities’ desire to use the North Korean leader’s weight loss to strengthen loyalty to the struggling regime.
The North, whose economy is weighed down by multiple international sanctions imposed in response to its banned military programs, has been more isolated than ever since its borders were closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In mid-June, Kim admitted that his country is experiencing a food crisis, sounding the alarm bells in a country where the agricultural sector has since been plagued by serious difficulties.
The state of health of the leader is closely scrutinized internationally and his sudden disappearance would raise problems as to his succession and the stability of the regime.
This die-hard smoker has suffered from obesity for a long time and his weight has continued to increase in recent years.
Recently, he appeared in photos released by the official North Korean agency KCNA or on state television footage weighing less pounds.
Mr. Kim’s privacy taboo for North Korean media, but last week KCTV aired a clip in which a resident of the capital claims the whole country is “heartbroken” when he sees his “emaciated condition” “.
“To see our respectable secretary general emaciated is what breaks the hearts of our people the most,” he said.
Analysts say Pyongyang is using Mr. Kim’s appearance to glorify him by portraying him as a “dedicated and hardworking” leader as the country struggles to deal with its food crisis, among other things.
The North closed its borders in January 2020 and trade with China, its first economic and diplomatic support, has been reduced to heartache.
“The message Pyongyang is sending is that Mr. Kim is a leader who works very hard for his people, to the point of skipping meals and losing weight,” defector Ahn Chan-il told AFP. North Korean who became a researcher at the World Institute for North Korean Studies, based in Seoul.
Last year, the leader did not appear publicly for three weeks, sparking speculation about his state of health.
His absence was notably noticed on April 15, 2020, the most important day on the North Korean political calendar because the whole country commemorates the birth of the founder of the regime, Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current leader.