North Koreans are heartbroken over an ’emaciated’ Kim Jong Un, state media reports

Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at a meeting of the Workers’ Party of Korea, in a photo released by the Korean Central News Agency KCNA/REUTERS
  • Kim Jong Un has been looking noticeably thinner recently, say experts who are analyzing recent images of him.
  • His weight loss has everyone heartbroken, said a local man in a state media interview.
  • Experts watch for information like Kim’s health to gain clues about the North Korean regime.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Kim Jong Un’s recent weight loss is worrying people all over North Korea, a Pyongyang resident told the country’s tightly controlled state TV on Friday, reported Reuters.

“Seeing respected general secretary (Kim Jong Un) looking emaciated breaks our people’s heart so much,” the man said in an interview with broadcaster Korean Central Television.

“Everyone is saying their tears welled up,” he said.

The man was among a group of residents watching a screen on the street that showed Kim and his party officials at a concert featuring propaganda songs about the regime, reported Reuters, which could not independently verify the clip.

The aired comments are a rare acknowledgment of Kim’s health by the North Korean state media.

There was speculation last April that Kim was in “grave danger” after an operation and was dead or in a coma, but the autocratic leader appeared in public earlier this year, though he was thinner.

Kim, believed to be 37 this year, stands at 1.52m 18cm and weighed around 136kg in November, according to South Korea’s spy agency National Intelligence Service.

Later on, Kim disappeared from the public eye again for a month, then reappeared in early June. That was when foreign analysts and expert North Korea watchers noticed that the dictator had lost considerable weight.

-James Pearson (@pearswick) June 8, 2021

Experts have been tracking Kim’s health and physical appearance to fish for clues about the North Korean regime.

“On the surface, noticeable weight loss may not mean much, but it can provide clues to other information that intelligence collectors look for,” Michael Brodka, a US military intelligence officer in South Korea, told Seoul-based North Korea news and analysis site NK News.

“It may be a simple matter of a healthy lifestyle change or a more complex issue,” he said. “Right now, we do not know, but it raises enough serious questions that we must pay attention to events over the next couple of months to find out.”

Earlier this month, Kim said at a plenary for the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea that the country is experiencing a food crisis and that the situation there was “tense.”