The despot appeared noticeably slimmer in recent appearances amid a food shortage in the hermit kingdom. Some people have suggested his reduction in size may be a cynical attempt to gain sympathy from starving North Koreans. But it it unlikely Kim would take such evasive action to gain extra support from his fellow countrymen and women.
Reports from South Korea suggest Kim’s closest aides became so concerned about his unhealthy weight and lifestyle that they enrolled him in a health retreat.
After taking office in 2011 upon the death of his father, he ballooned to become morbidly obese.
He enjoyed a lavish lifestyle of decadent eating and drinking while many lived on the breadline.
The Covid pandemic has wreaked havoc in the Asian country and Kim has warned food shortages could lead to a famine.
In a public broadcast about the dictator’s health, North Korean state media, Korea Central Television, discussed his “emaciated” condition.
One unnamed man in the capital Pyongyang was quoted as saying: “Seeing respected general secretary (Kim Jong-un) looking emaciated breaks our people’s heart so much.
“Everyone is saying that their tears welled up.”
Recent footage of Kim was also shown to viewers in which the leader’s obvious weight loss looks clear for all to see.
READ MORE: Kim Jong-un health: What is wrong with North Korea leader? ‘Emaciated’
He blamed the pandemic and a recent typhoon for causing stocks to run low.
The Pyongyang government still claims to have zero positive cases of Covid in the country of over 25 million.
Last year, as much of the world was gripped by the virus, he told a Workers’ Party gathering that North Koreans needed to “remain firm in the face of ‘tremendous challenges’ posed by the pandemic”.
He warned of a potential famine which could echo the “Arduous March” of the late 1990s.
During this period the country faced starvation on a mass scale.
The food crisis which stemmed from a variety of factors.
Economic mismanagement and the loss of Soviet support caused food imports to drop and production to decrease.
There were also a series of floods and droughts which severely impacted harvests.
Up to 3.5 million people are estimated to have died from starvation and hunger-related illnesses, with the deaths peaking in 1997.