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Kim Jong-un - Health

Kim Jong-un is under heavy stress because he has too many things to do himself. He has health problems as he eats, drinks and smokes too much, in an apparent effort to relieve stress. Kim has suffered from a lot of stress stemmed from making decisions about so many problems and taking responsibilities alone in the process of ruling his country for nine years. His health doesn’t look good for his age. That has to do with his excessive drinking and smoking, along with stress.

Kim resurfaced in public in June 2021 and North Korea watchers noted that he had noticeably lost weight, even analyzing photographs to see if he was using a different notch on his wristwatch band, the New York Times reported 29 June 2021. Losing about ten to twelve kilograms in recent months, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have no health problems. Seoul's National Intelligence Service announced on 08 July 2021 that the North's leader seems to be fine based on his recent activities like presiding over five meetings just last month. And Kim's recent weight loss, experts say, was most likely an intentional diet. "Kim Jong-un knows being overweight is not a good image for a leader and his wife has reportedly shown concern about her children seeing an obese father. Plus, Kim is trying to gain sympathy from his people."

Although the reasons for his apparent weight loss are unknown, state media used it for propaganda purposes, saying that Kim is suffering alongside his people, who are struggling in a country plagued by chronic food insecurity exacerbated by the effects of the prolonged coronavirus pandemic. North Korean state TV cited an unidentified male resident as saying ordinary people were heartbroken at the sight of a leaner Kim. “Our people’s hearts ached most when we saw (Kim’s) emaciated looks,” the man said. “Everyone says their tears are welling up in their eyes naturally.” But discussion of the North Korean leader’s health can be considered treason, so authorities are launching investigations nationwide to stop people from spreading rumors about Kim, called the “Highest Dignity” in official communication.

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The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported 01 May 2020 that Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance in 20 days amid rumors about his health. Kim attended a ceremony marking the completion of a fertiliser factory in Suncheon, near the capital of Pyongyang, with other senior officials, including his sister, Kim Yo Jong. The Supreme Leader cut a ribbon and walked without a cane or aid from others, but he mainly sat smoking cigarettes [7.27 brand premium North Korean cigarette]. His head, always pleasingly plump, was amazingly bloated, so much so that the collar of his tunic was unbuttoned to accomodate the bulk of his abundant jowls. The Supreme Leader has from time to time exhibited such bloat, which is probably the result of some medical condition or medication, rather than simple gluttony.

The North Korean state media video from 01 May 2020 showed a new mark on Kim Jong Un’s right wrist: “It looks like a right radial artery puncture … [which is] often used for access to the coronary arteries for stent placement” US-trained medical professional told @nknewsorg.

The South's Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul, who is in charge of North Korean affairs, said during an address before the country's lawmakers on 28 April 2020 that Kim missed the major commemoration ceremony on April 15 due to ongoing measures to avert the spread of the highly-contagious virus and not because he was ill. "It is true that he had never missed the anniversary for Kim Il-sung's birthday since he took power, but many anniversary events, including celebrations and a banquet, had been cancelled because of coronavirus concerns," said the minister, referring to the leader's grandfather and founder of North Korea. He said there were at least two other instances since mid-January where the North Korean leader was out of sight for nearly 20 days. "I don't think that's particularly unusual given the current (epidemic) situation." North Korea has said it has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

A train likely belonging to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had been parked at his compound on the country's east coast since last week, satellite imagery showed 23 April 2020, amid speculation about his health. The monitoring project, 38 North, said in its report on Saturday that the train was parked at the “leadership station” in Wonsan on April 21 and April 23. The station is reserved for the use of the Kim family, it said.

Though the group said it was probably Kim Jong Un’s train, Reuters has not been able to confirm that independently, or whether he was in Wonsan. “The train’s presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country’s eastern coast,” the report said.

According to Daily NK's source, Kim Jong-un underwest cardiovascular surgery, and was recovering at his residence in Pyeonganbuk-do Province after receiving surgery on 12 April 2020. CNN, citing an unnamed U.S. official, reported on 21 April 2020 that Kim Jong-un was in "grave danger" after undergoing surgery of an unspecified nature. The South Korean government based on its own intelligence denied the report. The South Korean government says it has not detected any indications suggesting ill health. Reuters cited an official with the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department as saying that Kim is not believed to be critically ill. North's official Korea Central News Agency reported on 20 April 2020 that Kim sent a birthday message to the Cuban President, implying that Kim was carrying out his duties as usual.

There had been speculation that Kim Jong-un might have health issues as he did not appear on North Korean founder Kim Il-sung's birthday for the first time since he came to power. Kim has not made a public appearance since presiding over a Workers' Party politburo meeting on April 11, and the following day state media reported on him inspecting fighter jets at an air defence unit.

Kim Jong Un skipped one of Pyongyang's most important and largest holidays - the birthday commemoration of his grandfather and the country's founder, Kim Il Sung - marking his first absence from the ceremony since taking power in 2011. Official photos published on 16 April 2020 showed senior North Korean officials visiting the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to pay tribute during the 108th anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birth on 15 April 2020.

His absence unleashed a series of unconfirmed media reports over his condition, which officials in Seoul previously poured cold water on. Moon's special adviser on national security Moon Chung-in, in an interview with CNN on 26 April 2020 said "Kim Jong-un is alive and well." The adviser said that Kim had been staying in Wonsan, a resort town in the country's east, since April 13, adding, "No suspicious movements have so far been detected."

Kim Jong Un's sister and close aide, Kim Yo Jong, who is in charge of propaganda affairs and is suspected to be the reclusive country's second-in-command, was also not present at the event. NK News, a news website dedicated to North Korea, quoted Korea watcher and analyst Peter Ward as saying that Kim Jong Un's absence could suggest a change in priorities in the country's propaganda, or that the young leader may be suffering from health issues.

Yomiuri said Kim Jong-un could be suffering from worsening complications with hypertension, diabetes and heart disorders, as a rumor is spreading that a group of French doctors visited the North in January to treat him.

Satellite images reviewed by 38North, a US-based think tank, showed a train probably belonging to Kim at a station in Wonsan. It cautioned that the train's presence did not "indicate anything about his health" but did "lend weight" to reports he was staying on the country's eastern coast. Reporting from inside the isolated North is notoriously difficult, especially regarding anything to do with its leadership, which is among its most closely guarded secrets.

Previous absences from the public eye on Kim's part have prompted speculation about his health. In 2014 he dropped out of sight for nearly six weeks before reappearing with a cane. Days later, the South's spy agency said he had undergone surgery to remove a cyst from his ankle.

Kim Jong-un is about 170 cm tall, and has a weight exceeding 100 kg, indicating that he has a BMI exceeding 40 kg/m2. The BMI indicates people over 40 kg/m2 to be morbidly obese. Kim brought a personal toilet to the 28 April 2018 summit talks between South Korea and North Korea. The North Korean leader has been known for carrying around a personal toilet to minimize the risk of exposing his health status through his urine and fecal matter.

North Korea's ruling party newspaper published photos of leader Kim Jong Un meeting the South's presidential envoys 05 Mqarch 2018. In contrast to a few weeks earlier, the Supreme Leader seemed perfectly healthy, though his hair cut is becoming a bit more extreme, and his face was somewhat bloated. The Rodong Sinmun carried 10 photos on its front and 2nd pages. They show the 2 sides talking across a table. Kim is seated between his sister Kim Yo Jong and the Korean Workers' Party Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, who's in charge of inter-Korean relations. Another photo shows Kim shaking hands with the chief South Korean envoy Chung Eui-yong, who heads the National Security Office. Kim is seen holding a letter from South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Photos from a banquet show a smiling Kim holding Chung's hand. They also show the North Korean leader and his wife sharing a table with the South's envoys.

On 13 February 2018 Kim Jong-un welcomed back the high-level delegation that he had sent to the South for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. According to North Korean state media reports, he said he was satisfied with the outcomes of their trip, and also expressed gratitude towards South Korea for hosting them. He said, "it is important to continue making good results by further livening up the warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue created by the Winter Olympics as a momentum." He is also said to have given important instructions "to take practical measures for it."

The delegation was led by the North's nominal head of the state, Kim Yong-nam, and Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jung. In a photograph released by the DPRK, the DPRK President is standing on his right and his sister is on his left. Possibly they are hugging him, but it really looks like they are holding him upright to prevent him from falling over. His face also seems rather bloated. Both of these features suggest a return of the health problems that have bedeviled him since coming to power.

In a regime that is so profoundly focused on a single all-powerful leader, the physical health of that leader must be a focus of intense interest. In the past, North Korean media never directly mentioned the top leadership’s health problems.

Although Kim was frequently depicted inspecting many different places, there were rumors that he was suffering from various diseases, such as obesity, hyperlipidemia, high blood pressure and diabetes. Some observers suspected that his health condition has deteriorated so severely that he cannot even engage in public activities. Kim was seriously obese, and this seems to have caused problems. He also may suffer from diabetes. There is a history of heart disease in his family. His grandfather, Kim Il-sung, and father, Kim Jong-il, both had heart problems. The rumors going around that his heart condition isn’t very good were based on these facts.

Simply comparing photographs of his face taken a few years apart depict seriously swollen facial features. This is not the bloat of good eating, this is the bloat of illness or serious medication.

Facial edema can make a sculptured face look moon round. A swollen face occurs when there is a buildup of fluids in the facial tissues. Facial swelling can happen over time or overnight. A number of diseases, conditions or circumstances that can sometimes cause the face to swell into a puffy looking moon. There can be any number of reasons a face is swollen, most of which clearly do not apply in this case. Part of the diagnostic problem is that there are only a finite number of externally observable medical symptoms, any or all of which are the product of an number of ailments.

If the Thyroid gland is underactive and it produces insufficient thyroid hormone, it is called hypothyroidism. And if the gland is overactive and produces excess of the hormone, it is called hyperthyroidism. Both are disorders that can have symptoms of facial swelling. Symptoms of hypothyroidism along with puffiness of the face include swelling in the hands and feet, weight gain, fatigue, joint pain, thinning brittle hair and heavy menstrual periods. Hyperthyroidism symptoms include muscle weakness, rapid heartbeat or irregular heartbeat, mood swings, weight loss and sleeping problems.

Cushing’s syndrome can be caused by long-term use of corticosteroid drugs that treat inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. It can also be caused by an adrenal tumour or a pituitary gland tumour. The symptoms can vary from person to person, but a moon-faced appearance and upper body obesity is found frequently in people with Cushing’s syndrome.

In July 2014, a portly Kim was seen awkwardly limping across a stage at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the death of his grandfather, the country's founding president. Shortly thereafter, a state media documentary mentioned in passing that the leader, regarded by many North Koreans as an almost divine figure, was experiencing unspecified "discomfort." Kim had gained a large amount of weight since he took over as the country's top leader following the death of his father in 2011.

The term “reclusive leader” often referred to former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who was reluctant to make his voice heard in public. Unlike his father and predecessor, current leader Kim Jong-un made frequent public appearances in an apparent move to get closer to his people. In September 2014 the young leader disappeared from public view, the longest absence since he came to power. Given the unique characteristics of the North Korean regime, any problem in the top leader’s personal safety merits attention since it will certainly have a big impact on stability and political landscape within the country. Speculations are rampant over Kim’s possible health problem.

In late September 2014 North Korean media acknowledged the ill health of its young leader, 31-year-old Kim Jong-un, following a near-month-long absence from the spotlight. The news follows several public appearances by the leader where he was seen walking with a limp: the last included a July meeting with his cabinet and now a documentary about the government. “The wealth and prosperity of our socialism is thanks to the painstaking efforts of our marshal, who keeps lighting the path for the people, like the flicker of a flame, despite suffering discomfort,” the narrator can be heard saying in the documentary.

Some experts believed the North Korean leader has gout – a complex form of arthritis. “Based on his gait, it appears he has gout – something [due to] diet and genetic predisposition that has affected other members of the Kim family,” an expert on the North Korean leadership, Michael Madden, told The Guardian. There is no further information on the leader’s health at this time, but some have noted that he gained weight since taking over from his father Kim Jong-il, after the former leader died of a heart attack in 2011. Experts have said that young Kim’s weight and genetic predisposition could have been a factor in his suffering gout.

Gout is one of the most painful forms of arthritis. It occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the body. A gout attack can be brought on by stressful events, alcohol or drugs, or another illness. Doctors use medicines to treat an acute attack of gout, including: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); Corticosteroids, such as prednisone; or Colchicine, which works best when taken within the first 12 hours of an acute attack. Early attacks usually get better within 3 to 10 days, even without treatment. The next attack may not occur for months or even years. Some people may develop chronic gout. This is also called gouty arthritis. This condition can lead to joint damage and loss of motion in the joints. People with chronic gout will have joint pain and other symptoms most of the time.

Another rumor pointed to possible surgery for the leader. According to independent broadcaster Free North Korea Radio, Kim had undergone ankle surgery at Bonghwa Clinic in Pyongyang, an exclusive hospital for high-ranking members, in mid-September to treat fractures and still remains in hospital.

Rumors of a military coup in the North were rampant on Chinese micro-blogging website Weibo, with posts stating that Kim had been arrested after being overthrown. To this, the U.S. State Department has declined to comment on the possiblity of a military coup in the communist state, saying that they can neither confirm nor deny the rumors. The North Korean leader's absence made the headlines in many countries, but some experts say its not a first nor should there be alarm. Kim reportedly went absent for two weeks in 2012, and returned to the public eye with no explanation.

Kim Yang-gon, who has been the North's top policymaker in charge of inter-Korean affairs since 2007, told South Korean Unification Minster Ryoo Kihl-jae during informal talks on 04 October 2014 that the young North Korean leader was fine. Ryoo said he had no reason to believe Kim Yang-gon was not being forthright.

Speculation over the health and political status of Kim Jong Un intensified 10 October 2014, as the North Korean leader remained out of public view on an important anniversary for the secretive, communist nation. State media, which normally provide a near-daily account of the activities of the North Korean leader, offered few clues, except for mentioning in passing that the leader was experiencing "discomfort."

Kim had not been seen in public since he attended a concert September 3, prompting speculation he was suffering from serious health problems, was sidelined in a coup and that it's possible his sister had taken over. With Kim's prolonged absence, the hunches are becoming more elaborate, with the latest pointing to Kim dealing with a speaking disorder due to a stroke. The longer he remained out of sight, the more uncertainly grew about the stability of a regime based on hereditary rule.

For the first time in nearly six weeks, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared in public in images released October 14, 2014 by state media. The North Korean ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun published photographs of Kim visiting a new housing complex in Pyongyang. The newspaper coverage included full-length photos showing Kim smiling and leaning on a black walking stick that he held in his left hand as he toured the residential complex that was built for scientists working on North Korea's satellite program.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told South Korean legislators 27 October 2014 that a foreign doctor flew to the counrty and operated on Kim in September or October to remove a cyst from his ankle. The NIS’s report also suggested the cyst would recur due to Kim’s health – he is obese and a heavy smoker – and his heavy public schedule. It wasn't immediately clear how the information was obtained by the spy agency, which has a spotty track record of analyzing developments in opaque North Korea.

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In September 2015 Chosun Ilbo reported that ROK intelligence agencies estimated the young leader weighed about 130 kilograms. They estimated that the obese dictator had gained more than over 30 kilograms since he took power in 2011. According to the South Korean government's analysis, Kim had reached a body weight of 130 kg in 2015, up from 90 kg when he became the North's ruler in 2012 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

New questions were asked about the health of Kim Jong-un following his appearance at the 70th anniversary event of the ruling Workers' Party, 12 October 2015. Kim reviewed the military parade at Kim Il-sung Square in central Pyongyang. During what was only his second public address since taking power, Kim spoke in a coarse voice, while his stance suggested that he may have health problems. During the 25-minute speech, he did not stand straight and supported himself throughout most of the time by leaning on the podium with his arms. This was also in contrast to the upright position he held while giving his first public speech three years earlier marking the centennial of North Korea's founding leader Kim Il-sung.

The South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) said 01 July 2016 that Kim Jong-un suffered from various health issues and gained a considerable 40 kilograms in the last four years. Saenuri Rep. Lee Cheol-woo, who chairs the National Assembly Intelligence Committee, said the information was revealed in a briefing by the NIS in parliament. Lee said that according to the NIS, the North Korean leader weighed about 90 kilograms when he first took office in 2012 but his weight is believed to have jumped to 120 kilograms in 2014 and to 130 recently. He is also believed to be suffering from insomnia. Lee also conveyed the NIS report as saying that Kim is under great stress over his safety as he is on the lookout for threats from the military. Due to habits of binge eating and drinking, possibilities have been raised that the young leader may develop diseases due to obesity.

In mid-2016 Kim Jong-un was photographed smoking a cigarette. Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general. Smoking is estimated to increase the risk — For coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times; For stroke by 2 to 4 times; and men developing lung cancer by 25 times. Smokers are at greater risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease). Smoking causes stroke and coronary heart disease, which are among the leading causes of death in the United States. Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease. Smoking damages blood vessels and can make them thicken and grow narrower. This makes the heart beat faster and blood pressure goes up. Clots can also form.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived 24 April 2019 in the far eastern port city of Vladivostok of Russia for his first ever meeting with Vladimir Putin. As he sat next to Putin during their opening remarks, Kim appeared to be tired and breathing heavier than usual, drawing speculation about his health from some North Korea watchers. The North Korean leader, believed to be around 35 years old, also appeared to be out of breath during an appearance Wednesday after arriving in Russia. All of Kim’s appearances are watched closely for such signs, in part because until recently the public had not often gotten unscripted looks at him.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 17:11:43 ZULU