- Kim Jong Un has lost weight and now we have an idea of how much.
- South Korea’s spy agency believes Kim has lost as much as 44 pounds.
- Kim’s health and weight are of interest to intelligence agencies because they speak to the regime’s health.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has lost a lot of weight, possibly more than 40 pounds, according to South Korea’s spy agency.
The National Intelligence Service believes Kim has lost 10 to 20 kg (22 to 44 pounds), a South Korean lawmaker briefed by the agency told reporters Thursday, Bloomberg reported.
The intelligence agency said in November that Kim weighed just over 300 pounds. When the young dictator took power a decade ago, NIS estimated that he weighed just under 200 pounds.
—Martyn Williams (@martyn_williams) February 12, 2021
Kim is said to be about 5 feet 7 inches tall, so at over 300 pounds, the North Korean leader, said to be in his mid-30s, would be considered serious
and potentially at risk for a number of health problems. The risk is higher given his affiliation with chain smoking and heavy drinking, not to mention the high stress of leading a brutal regime facing significant international pressure for its illegal weapons programs and human rights violations.
In the book “The Great Successor: The Secret Rise and Rule of Kim Jong Un” from 2019, the experienced reporter and North Korean expert Ana Fifield described the young leader who looks like “like a heart attack waiting to happen.”
But after a decade of significant weight gain, his weight now appears to be declining.
Insider citing an NK News analysis reported in June that Kim appeared to be losing weight. In photos, his face looked smaller, his clothes fit looser, and he was clearly able to fold down his $ 12,000 Portofino Automatic watch made by IWC Schaffhausen much closer to his wrist.
A few weeks later, North Korean state media reported that some in North Korea were concerned about Kim’s weight loss.
“Seeing respected general secretary (Kim Jong Un) look emaciated breaks the hearts of our people so much,” a Pyongyang resident said during a Korean central television broadcast, Reuters reported. “Everyone says their tears well up.”
While it is possible that a noticeably slimmer Kim may be the result of an illness, the South Korean lawmaker who discussed the intelligence community’s view of the situation said there appear to be no health abnormalities, Bloomberg reported.
Specifically, there is nothing strange about how he is doing, nor has he stopped holding “hour-long meetings,” the lawmaker said.
Kim’s health, including his weight, gains a lot of control from the intelligence community because it provides insight into the health and stability of the North Korean regime, especially given the uncertainty surrounding inheritance if the regime’s third leader dies young.
“Legacy is very unclear if anything should happen to Kim Jong Un,” Sue Mi Terry, an expert on North Korea at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Insider earlier. “We know he’s unhealthy. So we have to worry” about his weight gain, loss and general health.
Terry said management health is likely to be “one of the key indicators” of regime stability. For North Korea, she said, “Kim Jong Un’s health is the biggest wild card.”