North Korea’s Kim has noticeably lost weight
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared to have undergone a dramatic weight loss when he spoke at a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party. Kim’s physique has noticeably slimmed down in recent months amid reported food shortages.
Kim spent this week chairing a plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, the sole party in the communist state. While he often uses such meetings to announce major policy decisions – usually related to the country’s nuclear program or its relations with South Korea or the US – this year’s gathering was aimed at the vague goal of “guiding the struggle of our Party and people to the next stage of victory,” according to government officials.
While Kim has not issued any public proclamations since the meeting began on Monday, photos of the North Korean strongman drew public attention due to his apparently rapid weight loss.
Kim stands at around 170cm and once reportedly weighed 130kg, per South Korean estimations – measurements that would place him as obese on the BMI (Body Mass Index) scale. However, Kim has been steadily shedding the pounds since earlier this year, with North Korean state media in June describing his weight loss as upsetting the nation and leaving him looking “emaciated.”
Severe flooding and supply issues due to the coronavirus pandemic have reportedly caused food shortages in North Korea, with the closure of the communist state’s border with China further exacerbating the problem. The government, famously tight-lipped about the country’s internal struggles, appears to have acknowledged this problem, stating that Kim is eating less “for the sake of the country,” according to several Western media reports.
Other reports by Western outlets have previously claimed that Kim instructed his citizens this summer to brace for hardship, comparing the country’s situation at the time to the ‘Arduous March’ of the 1990s, a period of economic crisis and starvation.
Earlier this month, Kim marked ten years in power, having taken over following his father’s death in 2011. In that time he has defied international sanctions and continued to develop the state’s ballistic missile program. Despite meeting with former US President Donald Trump on numerous occasions, he made no discernible progress toward nuclear disarmament and won no loosening of US sanctions in return.