| 19 May 2024, Sunday |

Kim Jong-un lost 20 kgs, not using body double, says South Korean spy agency

A South Korean spy agency told lawmakers, that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has lost about 20 kilograms of weight, but remains healthy.
The National Intelligence Service claimed that he has been focussing on boosting public loyalty to him as the country faces widespread hunger and worsening economic problems.
The agency also dismissed rumours that the thinner Kim was actually a body double of the 37-year-old, calling the allegations as “groundless”.
According to reports, the spy agency gave the assessment during a closed-door parliamentary briefing on Thursday, saying it used artificial intelligence techniques, an analysis of super-resolution video of Kim and other methods to investigate Kim’s condition.
Kim’s appearance came into the limelight after the North Korean media released photos and videos of him, who seemed to appear thinner than before.
Despite Kim’s thinner appearance, North Korean observers have said that the 37-year-old has no apparent health problems, and his weight loss is likely the result of his efforts to improve his physique.
They noted that he has continued his regular public activities and no unusual developments have been seen in North Korean videos.
The 37-year-old leader hasn’t publicly anointed a successor and some experts say abrupt incapacitation could trigger chaos in the impoverished nuclear-armed country.
According to AP, the NIS told the parliamentary session that Kim’s weight has fallen from about 140 kg to 120 kg. The NIS has previously said Kim is about 170 centimetres (5 feet, 8 inches) tall.
According to AP, lawmaker Ha Tae-keung, quoting the NIS, said North Korea has begun using the term “Kimjongunism,” a political ideology named after Kim Jong Un that is independent of existing ideologies named after his father and grandfather, “Kimjongilism” and “Kimilsungism.”
After about 10 years in office, Kim is struggling to overcome what appears to be the toughest period of his rule due to economic hardships worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the NIS, North Korea’s annual trade with China, its main ally and economic lifeline, declined by two-thirds to $185 million through September this year compared to the previous year.
North Korean officials are struggling to deal with soaring prices of goods and shortages of medicine and other essential supplies that have accelerated the spread of water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever. The country has also been unable to import the paper and ink it uses to print banknotes, forcing North Korean officials to issue temporary currency, lawmaker Ha said, quoting the NIS briefing.