That’s the big question hanging over new photos and reports from North Korea, amid a severe food shortage in the country.
Kim Jong Un warns of food shortages, extends COVID-19 lockdowns for North Korea
Outside observers recently noted that Kim’s clothes looked a bit loose on her in recent photos, after being away for a month in the public eye. It also appears to have dropped a few notches on its bracelet, analysts told Reuters. As of this article, Pyongyang did not recognize the weight loss.
“It’s a little strange that they are showing him in such ill-fitting clothes, because the optics seem to emphasize his weight loss,” said Jenny Town, director of the 38 North Korea-focused Project in the United States.
The story continues under the ad
“This is major weight loss, and her health is important to the functioning and the fate of the state, which is why people are watching this closely,” Town told Reuters.
Rudy Giuliani’s law license suspended for pushing Trump’s election lies
North Korean state-controlled media fueled speculation on Friday. He quoted an unidentified citizen as saying Kim looked “emaciated,” in a rare posted remark about the dictator’s health. The man in the report said he was “heartbroken” to see Kim in such a state.
“Everyone is talking about how their tears immediately gushed out,” the man said.
The comment came amid a growing food crisis in North Korea, where lockdowns from COVID-19 and international sanctions have pushed the country into dire economic straits.
“The most likely reason they would mention his weight drop in this way, in my opinion, would be related to ongoing border measures related to COVID-19,” said Chad O’Carroll, CEO of the Korea Risk Group based in Seoul.
Fully vaccinated against COVID-19? Canada unveils new guidelines on what you can and cannot do
29% of Canadians violated COVID-19 restrictions, and many felt justified in doing so: poll
Whatever the motivation behind Kim’s rapid weight loss, it seems there is propaganda value in showing that even the leader of North Korea is experiencing the same food shortages that are plaguing the country on time. current. “
North Korean missile test as state TV photos show
Christopher Green, a Korean scholar at Leiden University in the Netherlands, also suggested that North Korea use Kim’s weight as a propaganda tool to orient public opinion around his appearance.
“What matters is that the North Korean regime has received from its many, many informants that Kim’s condition is a topic of discussion among ordinary people,” he told Reuters.
“From there, it is easy to respond by devising a propaganda strategy to use the existing public debate to the advantage of the regime. “
Kim warned earlier this month that the food situation was “getting tense,” before announcing that North Korea would extend its lockdown due to the pandemic. Kim also claimed that North Korea has not had a single case of COVID-19 – a claim that experts say is likely false.
Duterte in Philippines threatens to jail those who refuse COVID-19 vaccine
Kim’s health has been a well-kept secret for years, and he has disappeared from public view for medical reasons that have been reported several times in the past.
Kim took over from his father, Kim Jong Il, as dictator of North Korea in 2011. He weighed 90 pounds in the first five years of his reign, increasing his weight to 286 pounds, AFP reports. He would have tipped the scales at around 309 pounds last year, but appears to have lost around 22 to 44 pounds since then, The Associated Press reports.
“No one can really know why he lost the weight,” Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP.
“What is clear -om KCTV footage – is that the regime wants the world to think its people love and care for their leader, to the point of mourning his slimmer appearance. “
– With files from Reuters and The Associated Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.