SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has seemed to have lost 44 pounds in the past two years, according to South Korean lawmakers who were briefed by the country’s intelligence agency in a closed-door meeting.
The massive weight loss has prompted rumors and conspiracies that North Korea was using a Kim Jong Un body double, which South Korea said is untrue.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service conducted the assessment “based on various scientific methods including artificial intelligence” using super-resolution video analysis and a stereometry analysis model that gauges facial fat and weight, Rep. Kim Byung-Kee of the ruling Democratic Party told reporters.
Kim’s often-reported health problems do not pose any serious issues, South Korea said. The analysis also concluded that the conspiracy theories suggesting North Korea may have been exposing a Kim Jong Un look-alike are not credible.
Photos provided by the North Korean government, show North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Feb. 8, 2021, left, and June 15, 2021, right, at Workers’ Party meetings in Pyongyang, North Korea.
The most noticeable change was the disappearance of the official portraits of his father and grandfather, former leaders Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, from the main walls of official meetings. Instead, the communist regime religiously hung the two portraits in all public areas and individual homes.
“Kim seems to have been working on building a people-friendly image by releasing photos of him drinking beer and smoking together with high-level officials,” Byung-Kee said.
Kim has been more active in public appearances this year compared to the year before. So far, he has been seen through North Korean state media for a total of 70 days in 2021. In contrast, he appeared 49 times during the same time in 2020.