Seoul: Kim of N. Korea lost 20 kgs, but is still healthy

According to South Korea's spy agency, Kim Jong Un, North Korean leader, has lost around 20 kilograms (44 pounds) in recent weeks. However he is still healthy and tries to increase public loyalty to him despite worsening economic conditions.

Seoul: Kim of N. Korea lost 20 kgs, but is still healthy

Two lawmakers present at the briefing said that the National Intelligence Service provided the assessment. It stated that it used artificial intelligence techniques and an analysis of superresolution video of Kim, as well as other methods, to examine Kim's condition.

Kim's health has been the focus of intense outside attention over recent months due to him appearing noticeably thinner on state media photos and videos. Kim, 37, has not publicly appointed a successor, and experts believe that an unexpected incapacitation could cause chaos in the nuclear-armed nation.

Kim's slimmer appearance is not surprising to long-time North Korean observers. They believe Kim is healthy and that his weight loss is due to his efforts in improving his body. They also noted that Kim has not changed his routine public activities, and they have not seen any unusual developments in North Korean videos.

Unconfirmed rumors continue to circulate about him, with one tabloid reporting that he was used as an impostor in recent public appearances. Kim Byung-kee, a lawmaker, said that the NIS rejected this report as unfounded.

According to him, the NIS had told the parliamentary session Kim's weight had dropped from 140 kilograms (308 lb) to 120 kg (264 lb). Kim was previously estimated to be 170 cm (5 feet 8 inches) tall by the NIS.

Kim was reportedly involved in public activities for 70 days this year, an increase of 45% over the previous year.

According to the lawmaker, Kim had photographs of his grandfather and father -- who ruled North Korea prior to him -- taken from a Workers Party conference room by the NIS.

Ha Tae-keung, another lawmaker, stated that North Korea started using the term Kimjongunism, a political ideology named for Kim Jong Un, and it is independent from existing ideologies, "Kimjongilism", and "Kimilsungism."

Kim has been in office for about 10 years and is still trying to get through what seems to be his most difficult period due to economic hardships made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Ha, the NIS shows that North Korea's annual trade volume with China, its principal ally and economic support, fell by two-thirds to $185m in September compared to the previous years.

Officials in North Korea are having difficulty coping with the soaring costs of goods, shortages of medicine, and other supplies that have contributed to the rapid spread of water-borne diseases like Typhoid fever. According to Ha's account at the NIS briefing, the country is also unable to import paper and ink that it needs to print banknotes. This has forced North Korean officials to issue temporary currencies.

Although trade has been reduced, officials from North Korea are pushing workers to increase their production. According to Ha, excessive factory operations led to an explosion at a major fertilizer facility in August.

According to the NIS, recent World Health Organization reports indicated that North Korea has begun to relax its COVID-19 border restrictions in order to receive outside assistance.

According to the NIS, the western North Korean seaport Nampo has become "saturated" by supplies from the outside after authorities allowed increased maritime transport and the entry of medical supplies. North Korea plans to open a new seaport in the northwest, Yongchon to handle the increased supplies. It also said that it is considering restarting rail transport with Russia and China.

North Korea has not reported any coronavirus cases. Experts have doubted North Korea's claim of a flawless record. Ha however stated that the NIS has not seen any evidence of a major COVID-19 epidemic.

Despite severe virus-related border control, North Korea hasn’t shown the same urgency for vaccines. Mass immunizations are still being delayed due to global shortages.

Ha stated that North Korea rejected all offers of Chinese and Russian vaccines. Kim, the lawmaker, stated that the NIS had determined that North Korea has not shown an interest in Pfizer vaccines. This would require negotiations between the drugmaker (NIS) and the U.S.

Analysts believe North Korea may be concerned about the international monitoring requirements attached to any vaccines it receives from outsiders. Some believe that Kim Jong Un may be trying to consolidate his power by tightening the country's selfimposed lockdown.

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