Kim's slimmed-down look becomes a weighty issue

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 17 Jun 2021

The health of portly North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a source of morbid fascination in South Korea, which sits in the shadow of his 1.2-million-strong army and its nuclear missiles.

Has he gained even more weight? Is he struggling for breath after short walks?

Now there is fresh speculation because he's slimmer.

Kim's health matters in Seoul, Washington, Tokyo and other capitals as there is no anointed successor to control a nuclear program targeting it perceived foes.

And North Korea has shut itself up tighter to protect against the coronavirus.

In recent state images, including some published yesterday, Kim, 37, appears to have lost much weight. Some experts say Kim, about 1.7 meters tall and known for heavy drinking and smoking, may have lost up to 20 kilograms from his previous 140 kg.

The weight loss is likely a bid to improve his health, says Hong Min, an analyst at Seoul's Korea Institute for National Unification. "If he had problems he wouldn't have come out to convene a meeting of the Workers' Party's Central Committee,'' he added, referring to an event this week.

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