North Korean state TV quoted an unidentified resident as saying that citizens were heartbroken by the “exhausted look” of leader Kim Jong Un.
SEOUL, South Korea – The heart of a broken North Korean is tearfully worried about “exhausted appearance of leader Kim Jong Un,” state media quoted a local resident as saying, in rare admission of foreign speculation about his weight loss.
The comments were seen as an effort to boost domestic support for Kim’s efforts as he faces deepening economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, mismanagement, UN economic sanctions and natural disasters, some experts said.
“Our people’s hearts ached the most when we saw (Kim’s) exhausted looks,” North Korean state television quoted an unidentified male resident with a straw hat on Friday. “Everyone says their tears come naturally.”
In recent state media photos, Kim seems to have lost quite a bit of weight. Some North Korean observers said Kim, who is about 170 centimeters tall (5 feet, 8 inches) and previously weighed 140 kilograms, may have lost 10-20 kilograms (22-44 kilograms).
Some analysts in Seoul say Kim was probably on a diet to improve his health, while others have speculated that his weight loss could be linked to health problems.
Kim, known for strong drinking and smoking, comes from a family that has had heart problems in the past. His father and grandfather, who ruled North Korea before him, died of heart problems.
In recent months, Kim has called for stronger unity to overcome what he calls the “worst ever” crisis caused by the pandemic-related border closure, which has sharply reduced North Korea’s international trade, persistent US-led sanctions and summer storms killed the crops of the year.