North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has recently lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) but remains healthy and is trying to increase public loyalty to him in the face of worsening economic problems, South Korea’s spy agency has told lawmakers.
The National Intelligence Service gave the assessment during a closed-door parliamentary briefing on Thursday, it used artificial intelligence techniques, an analysis of super-resolution video of Kim and other methods to investigate Kim’s condition, said two lawmakers who attended the session.
Kim’s health has been a focus of keen outside attention in recent months because he has appeared noticeably thinner in state media photos and videos. Kim, 37, hasn’t publicly anointed a successor and some experts say an abrupt incapacitation could trigger chaos in the impoverished nuclear-armed country.
Despite Kim’s thinner appearance, longtime North Korea observers have said Kim has no apparent health problems and his weight loss is probably the result of his efforts to improve his physique. They noted that he has continued his regular public activities and no unusual developments have been seen in North Korean videos.
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But unconfirmed rumours about him have continued to appear, with one tabloid claiming that recent public appearances used an impostor. The NIS dismissed that report as groundless, lawmaker Kim Byung-kee said.
He said the NIS told the parliamentary session that Kim’s weight has fallen from about 140 kilograms (308 pounds) to 120 kilograms (264 pounds). The NIS has previously said Kim is about 170 centimetres (5 feet, 8 inches) tall.
It said Kim has been engaged in public activities for 70 days so far this year, a 45% increase from the same period last year.
The lawmaker said the NIS found that Kim had photos of his late father and grandfather – who ruled North Korea before him – removed from a Workers’ party conference room.
Another lawmaker, Ha Tae-keung, quoted the NIS as saying North Korea has begun using the term “Kimjongunism,” a political ideology named after Kim Jong-un that is independent of existing ideologies named after his father and grandfather, “Kimjongilism” and “Kimilsungism”.
After about 10 years in office, Kim is struggling to overcome what appears to be the toughest period of his rule caused …….