The emaciated North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is believed to have no severe health problems. However, according to a parliamentarian, the South Korean intelligence service estimates that the dictator has lost about 10 to 20 kilos. In addition, video footage showed that he had lost a lot of weight.
“If there was anything unusual about his health condition, there should be indications that drugs are being imported for Kim’s health clinic,” politician Kim Byung-kee said after being briefed by intelligence. The North Korean leader is also said to participate in meetings that “take hours”, and the way he walks is not striking.
The health of 37-year-old Kim is also closely monitored outside his country. If he were to die, it is unclear who will take over power in the isolated dictatorship. It repeatedly caused major international unrest by testing long-range missiles and conducting nuclear tests.
Rumours circulated in South Korea this week that Kim had died of a brain haemorrhage, Yonhap news agency reported. They don’t seem to be correct. North Korean state media reported Thursday that the leader visited the mausoleum of his grandfather Kim Il-sung, who died on July 8, 1994.
Analysts immediately bent over photos of that commemoration ceremony. They can say something about the balance of power within the mysterious regime. For example, it was noticeable that influential advisor Ri Pyong-chol was not in the front in a group photo but several rows behind Kim. That suggests he has been demoted.
Soldiers did not flank Kim in the photo but by officials in civilian clothes. An expert from the American research organization CNA concluded that the powerful army apparently “has fallen in the pecking order”. This is seen as an indication that the dictator wants to prioritize solving his country’s economic problems. “And not his nuclear program.”