Kim Jong-un looked miserable and slimmer in a recent TV appearance – which followed a month-long absence of public appearances – reigniting the health rumours that have dogged the North Korean dictator.
The despot hosted a large national memorial service to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of his father, the former leader Kim Jong-Il, which took place outside the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in the capital Pyongyang.
The Sun reports that Kim, 37, was seen bowing before a large portrait of his father, standing on a platform overlooking what appeared to be thousands of people on the grounds of the palace.
Images show Kim, who has been in power for the 10 years since his father's death, looking unhappy and thinner than usual after not making any public appearances recently which is out of character for the tyrant.
In November, Kim visited a "utopian model rural city" project in the country's north, and before this, he had not been seen since a missile and weapons expo held in early October, which is his longest absence from public life in seven years.
The dictator has reportedly shed around 20 kilograms this year, which has sparked speculation about his health and whether or not he is fighting an illness of some sort.
North Korea bans booze and laughing to mark 10th anniversary of Kim Jong-Il's death
Heart disease and diabetes run in his family, and his father died from a heart attack.
But the weight loss could also be due to change of diet.
Kim has a taste for wine and cheese, and he may have cut down on on his favourite treats because of the food shortage North Korea is currently suffering from due to Covid and sanctions imposed on the country.
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Even Kim has admitted there are hardships and has warned people to prepare for the "worst-ever situation".
Tom Fowdy, a North Korea and China analyst at The Chollima Report, told Newsweek: "While there was a lot of speculation about Kim's health, his weight loss may well have been a statement of humility in recognising this environment.
“It coincides with a lot of rhetoric that the state economic situation is poor, and Kim's own efforts to improve it have largely been unsuccessful."
Last year, photos of Kim released 20 days after he mysteriously disappeared caused rumours the despot used a lookalike as some speculated the double could have been standing in due to the leader's poor health, or even death.
Photos of Kim released last year which showed his nose, face, teeth and ears to be different from usual, sparked speculation that the leader uses a body double who could have been standing in due to poor health or even death.
The Sun also reports that further body double claims come after it was reported North Korea is hunting for a Kim successor amid fears the tyrant's health is failing after his sudden weight loss.
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