North Korean television broadcast an unusual comment from a local on Kim Jong-un’s ’emaciated’ physique, a shocking remark in a country where it is forbidden to mention the leader’s privacy and health status.
In the opinion of analysts, this comment reflects the desire of the authorities to use the North Korean leader to strengthen his loyalty to the regime, which is struggling to lose weight.
Since its borders were closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the North has weighed in on the economy through multiple international sanctions imposed in response to banned military operations.
In mid-June, Kim acknowledged that his country was facing a food crisis, and that the agricultural sector had sounded the alarm in a country that had been in serious trouble ever since.
The health status of the leader is closely monitored internationally and his sudden disappearance raises issues such as his legacy and the stability of the regime.
This die-hard smoker has been suffering from es arrhythmia for a long time and his weight has been increasing in recent years.
Recently, he appeared in photos released by the official North Korean agency KCNA or in state television footage weighing less than a pound.
Mr Kim’s privacy is taboo to the North Korean media, but last week KCTV aired a clip in which the capital resident described the whole country as “heartbreaking” after seeing his “deteriorating condition”.
“The fact that our esteemed Secretary-General is charming is what breaks the hearts of our people the most,” he said.
Among other things, as the country struggles to cope with its food crisis, analysts say Pyongyang is using Mr Kim’s image to glorify him by portraying him as a “dedicated and hard-working” leader.
In January 2020 the North closed its borders and trade with China, its first economic and diplomatic support, was reduced to a heartache.
“The message Pyongyang is sending is that Mr Kim is working very hard for his people, from skipping meals and losing weight,” defector Ahn Chan-il told AFP. For Seoul-based North Korean studies, North Korea has become a global Korean researcher.
Last year, the leader did not appear in public for three weeks, leading to rumors about his health.
His absence was marked on April 15, 2020, the most important day in North Korea’s political calendar, as it commemorates the birthday of Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current regime’s founder and current leader.