North Korea crackdown: Kim Jong-un outlaws on gossip about his weight

Kim Jong-un: Doctor's take on weight loss revealed by reporter

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The North Korean despot recently appeared in state media after a lengthy absence looking noticeably thinner. Some eagled-eyed North Korean observers even tried to see whether he used a different notch on his wristwatch band. Experts believe the hermit state may be using the images as propaganda, to show the country’s leader is suffering food shortages together with the nation.

However, the exact reason for his weight loss is unknown.

Talking about Kim’s health is strictly considered treason in North Korea.

Authorities are now launching an investigation to stop rumours from spreading.

The investigation will target everyone from officials to residents and will spread across the country.

But the people of North Korea are reportedly concerned by Kim’s appearance.

In a rare acknowledgement of the public’s concerns, North Korea state TV quoted a resident as saying: “Our people’s hearts ached most when we saw Kim’s emancipated look.

“Everyone says their tears are welling up in their eyes naturally.”

Residents, however, now must be careful about what they say in public.

Another person from the north-western province of North Pyongan told RFA’s Korean Service this: “I was informed that the Ministry of State Security issued an order to each region’s State Security Department last week to secretly investigate rumours related to the health of the Highest Dignity.

“I heard about it from a state security agent in Tongrim county who I am close with.

“There is a rumour spreading around that the Highest Dignity has health problems, and the State Security Department is trying to find out the source of the rumour,” the source added.

“In fact, some residents, as well as government officials, are saying these days that the highest dignity is still young, but he will not live long due to various diseases including high blood pressure.”

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The Ministry of State Security considers any statement that regards the health of Kim-Jong Un as a matter of the stability of the regime. This means everyone, including government officials, must be very careful.

Even the slightest comment could result in an arrest.

Another source said: “I understand that such measures are happening nationwide under the direction of the Ministry of State Security.”

Nonetheless, not everyone is convinced Kim is actually suffering from an illness.

Ken Gause of the Virginia-based CNA think tank told RFA: “I think the North Korean regime understands that, in a country where there are pockets of people starving, to have a very overweight Supreme Leader is just not a good image.

“And I think by showing that he’s lost a little weight – that can really kind of go along with the narrative that he’s working very hard for the people and everybody’s suffering including him.”

Other analysts have remarked that Kim might have lost weight for health reasons.

Mark Barry, the associate editor of the International Journal on World Peace, said: “Surely whatever was done to attain weight loss was for the sake of improving Kim’s health over the long-term.

“However, it does serve a propaganda purpose to portray Kim’s weight loss as if he were suffering along with his people due to the adverse food situation this spring and summer.”

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