Kim Jong-un - Health
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, summer, 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.
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.
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.
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