Kim Jong Un appeared noticeably thinner as depicted in North Korean state propaganda this week – the first time in a month that he has been seen in public – with the watch band in particular showing his weight loss.
The despot was shown leading a business meeting said to have taken place on Monday and appeared to have lost weight around his chin, chest and arms.
Looking at the watch strap in this week’s photographs, more leather could be seen protruding after the buckle and it didn’t look as snug on the wrist as it did in December 2020 and March 2021, when the same watch was last visible in published photographs. from the secret state.
This sparked new speculations about the health of the “supreme leader”, a year after he is thought to have suffered a serious health problem during a prolonged public absence, sparking false rumors about his death.
Pictured: Kim Jong Un’s watch strap shown in North Korean state propaganda this week seemed to betray her weight loss, compared to photos from December 2020 and March 2021 showing the watch strap was wider to fit his thicker wrists. This week’s photos showed more of the watch band shown after the buckle and it didn’t feel as tight
MARCH 2021 / JUNE 2021: Kim Jong Un appeared noticeably slimmer in recent propaganda images released by North Korea, sparking new speculations about his health. The despot was shown leading a business meeting said to have taken place on Monday and appeared to have lost weight around his chin, chest and arms.
Observers have long warned that Kim’s health poses arguably the greatest threat to her brutal dynasty, and speculate that her slimming life is a sign that she is regaining control.
Although this absence has never been officially explained, it is widely believed that Kim was suffering from some kind of health problem, a view reinforced by the fact that he has appeared much less frequently in public since then.
Her party was also restructured to give her sister Kim Yo-jong a clear deputy role amid speculation that she would be prepared as a possible successor.
State propaganda has also been restructured to give more prominence to the powerful Central Committee of the Party and less to Kim.
Experts now believe that the shrinking of Kim’s life could be a sign that his health is recovering and foreshadow his return to a more prominent role at the head of the country’s brutally repressive regime.
While Kim’s weight has long been the subject of ridicule, observers have pointed out that it also poses perhaps the single greatest threat to his family dynasty.
Observers believe Kim, in her mid-30s, weighed a whopping 22 (308 pounds) in November last year, as well as being a heavy smoker.
It was a time when Covid was believed to circulate in the country, with obesity and lung problems significantly increasing the risk of death from infection.
Kim is thought to have three children, but none old enough to take over the leadership of the country in the event of his death.
JUNE 2021: Since he had a health problem last year, Kim has appeared in public less and delegated more powers, but experts believe it could end as he scales (pictured)
FEBRUARY 2021: Kim is thought to have tipped the scales at 22 (308 lbs) at her maximum and is known to be a frequent smoker
The strict succession of North Korea’s Paektu bloodline would potentially put Sister Kim Yo-jong on the front line to inherit, but it is far from clear that she would be able to win the respect of the country’s military leaders.
This could trigger a bloody power struggle and threaten the Kim dynasty that has ruled North Korea since the nation’s father Kim Il-sung came to power in 1948.
Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told NK News that Kim’s weight loss “probably improves her standing at home.”
“This in turn provides greater predictability perhaps for regional players such as Japan, [South Korea ] and the United States that may have more confidence that he will direct the show, “he added.
Kim was already considerably overweight when he came to power in 2011 following the death of his father Kim Jong-il.
His weight continued to swell as he tightened his grip on the country, ending a spate of murders thought to include the murder of his own half-brother – Kim Jong-nam – who was poisoned with a nerve agent at the main airport. of Malaysia.
DECEMBER 2011: Kim was already noticeably overweight when she took power (pictured), but her weight has continued to soar since then, potentially threatening the survival of her regime.
But its size has grown more in recent years when it completed the country’s nuclear program, started under his grandfather and carried out by his father despite crippling international sanctions, in 2017.
He then embarked on an unprecedented series of international diplomatic missions, including the first sit-down talks between a North Korean leader and the US president when he met Trump for two summits between 2018 and 2019.
Hailed as a major diplomatic victory for the North – and scorned as a humiliation for the United States by critics of Trump – the meetings ended North Korea’s long-range missile tests, but failed to gain any tangible advantage. for the Kim regime.
Then, in 2020, Kim suffered what is believed to have been a serious health problem that saw him absent from the public for 20 days, including missing birthday parties for his grandfather, an event no North Korean leader missed. before.
This sparked heated speculation, including rumors that he died during a heart operation which ultimately turned out to be false.
Even when Kim reappeared in public, Careful observers pointed to the marks on his wrist as possible evidence of heart surgery, while others theorized that he was actually a stunt double and the North Korean leader was still seriously ill.
Kim’s numerous public appearances since then have put an end to rumors of his death, but in particular he has taken longer breaks from public view and played a less important role in running the ruling Communist Party.