New Pictures of Kim Jong Un Show One Big Difference

Concerns over North Korean leader's health emerge after he appears noticeably thinner
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2021 6:33 AM CDT
New Pictures of Kim Jong Un Show One Big Difference
In this photo provided by the North Korean government, Kim Jong Un, center, attends a meeting with senior ruling party officials in Pyongyang on Monday.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Kim Jong Un recently banned skinny jeans, but he may want to reconsider. Plenty of people lost weight during the pandemic, and the 37-year-old appears to be one of them, at least according to new pictures of him published in NK News, which notes it looks like he dropped "a significant amount of weight." What's not clear, however, is whether he lost pounds intentionally—which would "likely [improve] his position at home," MIT poli-sci professor Vipin Narang tells the outlet—or because of faltering health, which Narang says "could be trouble for the outside world," as his possible illness and death would likely lead to behind-the-scenes chaos among those looking to take his seat.

NK News did a "forensic analysis" of the new images, released by state media over the weekend, and showed that the band of the $12,000 watch he wears appears to be tighter around his left wrist in the more recent photos than it was in ones taken in November and March. Other photos also show the leader's noticeably thinner face. The Guardian notes that Kim's weight has long been the subject of international interest, and that both that and his habits (e.g., he's a heavy smoker) have led to health issues. South Korea's National Intelligence Service reported in November he appeared to weigh over 300 pounds, which, on his apparent 5-foot-7 frame, "would be considered severely obese and potentially at risk for various health problems," per Insider. (More Kim Jong Un stories.)

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