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The Remarkable Transformation
In a surprising turn, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a striking appearance at a recent military parade, showcasing a noticeably thinner physique and exuding a newfound energy. The world watched with bated breath as images of the usually portly leader circulated across international media, sparking speculation and intrigue.
This unexpected transformation has raised questions about the enigmatic leader’s health, his regime’s future policies, and potential shifts in the dynamics of international relations involving North Korea. This article delves into the remarkable change in Kim Jong Un’s appearance, exploring its possible causes, implications, and the broader context surrounding this development.
During the event that started late Wednesday, Kim, wearing a cream suit and a shiny white tie, emerged as the clock struck midnight. He beamed in response to thunderous applause from performers and spectators filling Pyongyang’s brightly illuminated Kim Il Sung Square, named after his grandfather and founder of the nation on its 73rd anniversary.
Kim Jong smiled widely, waved to the crowd, and kissed children who presented him with flowers before taking his spot on a balcony to observe the parade. He laughed vigorously and applauded the marchers throughout the event while chatting animatedly with senior officials.
Kim Jong Un’s Fitness and Health Regime
It was a stark change from 2018 when TV footage showed him struggling to catch his breath while accompanying South Korean President Moon Jae-in on a short hike to North Korea’s Mount Paektu during a period of diplomatic engagement. Moon, three decades older than Kim, didn’t seem fazed by the walk at all.
“His face is clearly thinner, and he is moving much more vigorously,” said Park Won-gon, a professor of North Korea studies at Seoul’s Ewha Womans University.
Kim’s weight loss became noticeable in June when he made his first public appearance in weeks to convene a ruling party meeting. Some North Korean watchers then said that Kim, who is about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and has previously weighed 308 pounds, may have lost 22-44 pounds.
Most experts say Kim’s weight loss is more likely a result of efforts to improve his shape than an indicator of health problems, considering his regular public activity. It may also have a political purpose.
Kim is facing perhaps his most challenging moment as he approaches a decade of rule, with North Korea wrestling with U.S.-led economic sanctions over its nuclear weapons, pandemic border closures that cause further strain to its broken economy, and food shortages worsened by floods in recent summers.
Reactions from the Public and the World
It has become crucial for Kim to build an image as a young and vigorous leader who can steer the country out of trouble, analyst Park said. Such image-making efforts would align with the latest parade, which showcased civil defense units involved in rebuilding the economy and communities destroyed by floods and emphasized a domestic message for unity.
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said Kim, with his weight loss and cheerful demeanor at the parade, is likely trying to project an image of a “normal statesman” who engages with the public.
“He’s also a husband and a father of three children who is approaching his 40s, so it isn’t strange that he would care about his health,” Yang said.
Possible Reasons for Kim Jong Un’s Weight Loss
Kim’s health is the focus of keen outside attention as the 37-year-old leader hasn’t publicly anointed a successor who would take control of North Korea’s advancing nuclear arsenal targeting Asian rivals and the American homeland. He has been known for heavy drinking and smoking and comes from a family with a history of heart problems. His grandfather and father, who ruled North Korea before him, both died of heart issues.
“Considering the North’s political system, where the supreme leader decides everything, Kim’s health is an essential security matter,” Park said. “There were likely internal concerns that he was overweight, and it would have been important for Kim to reduce those concerns and present himself as a young and healthy leader capable of doing things.”
Kim Jong Un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, is no stranger to the global spotlight. His robust figure and distinctive hairstyle have been iconic symbols of his leadership. However, the recent military parade painted a drastically different picture.
Observers noted a visibly slimmer Kim Jong Un, sparking widespread speculation about the reasons behind this sudden change. Numerous theories, from health concerns to strategic political messaging, have emerged to explain this unexpected transformation.
The Evolving Dynamics of North Korean Society
Kim Jong Un’s weight loss may also reflect broader changes within North Korean society. As the country grapples with economic challenges and increased exposure to outside influences, there could be a growing emphasis on health and fitness. This shift may be filtering up to the upper echelons of society, including its leader. Analyzing this aspect sheds light on the societal transformations within the secretive nation.
Kim Jong Un’s surprising weight loss has ignited a wave of speculation and interest worldwide. While the exact reasons behind this transformation remain shrouded in secrecy, it undoubtedly carries significant implications for North Korea’s domestic policies, international relations, and the enigmatic leader’s image.
As the world continues to analyze this development, one thing is sure: the spectacle at the military parade marks a turning point in the narrative surrounding Kim Jong Un and his regime.