Kim Jong Un looked slimmer than ever during a military parade to celebrate North Korea’s 73rd anniversary.
The reason for the Supreme Leader‘s weight loss is unclear, with some speculating that it could be due to ill health, while others say it may be politically motivated or simply a decision to get fit.
Pictures from the last few months show the extent of his transformation, while snapshots taken since he came to power reveal years of weight gain.
State media, which is tightly controlled, ran a report in June that said his apparent weight loss left him “looking emaciated” and had broken the nation’s heart.
An unidentified resident of North Korea‘s capital Pyongyang was quoted as saying recent images of Mr Kim had upset people across the nation.
When the leader – who is believed to be aged 37 – reappeared on state media in early June after not being seen in public for almost a month, analysts noted his loss in weight.
Seoul-based website NK News published enlarged images suggesting he had tightened the strap on his favourite watch, reportedly worth $12,000 (£8,800).
Christopher Green, a Korea specialist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, suggested that state media may be highlighting his weight to show solidarity with residents who are enduring food shortages.
The country imposed strict COVID-19-related border measures that have slowed down trade and exacerbated economic problems.
Mr Kim’s heavy frame has drawn global interest since he became the country’s leader almost a decade ago.
According to NK News, South Korea’s national intelligence service told MPs last year it believed Mr Kim weighed 90kg when he came to power in 2011 and had gained an average of 6 to 7kg a year since then.
The leader, who is about 5ft 7in (174cm) tall and a known smoker, is estimated to have weighed as much as 140kg last year.
Mr Kim’s health is a frequent source of speculation.
Last April, the leader was not seen publicly for about 20 days following heart surgery, with reports from the likes of CNN suggesting he was in “grave danger” and others even going so far as to suggest he had died.
But he resurfaced in state media coverage showing him smiling and cutting the ribbon at the opening of a fertiliser factory.
In July 2014, at the age of 31, he was filmed with a distinctive limp, prompting concerns about his health.
North Korea’s state media conceded that the leader had been “suffering discomfort”.
Michael Madden, an expert on North Korean leadership, said Mr Kim’s extreme weight gain and family history revealed a lot about his condition.
He suggested that the politician had gout, brought on by his diet and a genetic predisposition that has affected other members of his family.
Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, died in 2011 after a heart attack.
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