July 5th, 2016
South Korea’s intelligence services are very interested in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s rapid weight gain, according to widespread reports, and have offered some theories for why his health is so poor.
Based even on state-sanctioned images from North Korea, it’s obvious that the Supreme Leader has gained plenty of weight. According to the South Korean National Intelligence Service, the diminutive despot was a relatively trim 200 pounds back in 2012, but now clocks in at almost 290.
Explanations for why this has happened are rather more speculative, but revolve mainly around food and booze. Images of Kim Jong-un limping and walking with a cane have led to speculation that he suffers from gout, a disease that can be associated with overeating or excessive drinking.
Spies’ briefings received by the South Korean parliamentary intelligence committee indicate that Kim Jong-un may be losing sleep and eating in binges because he fears for his life. As the paranoia of the Kim dynasty continues into its third generation, Jong-un has engaged in impulsive purges of senior officials and certainly has more than his share of enemies.
The South Korean National Intelligence Service, which for obvious reasons is under pressure to keep a watchful eye on the North, is often forced to make judgements based on anecdotal or otherwise-flimsy evidence. Previous guesstimates about North Korean affairs have turned out to be false. However, there is little doubt that Kim Jung-un’s health has declined.
The reclusive leader doesn’t appear to have a good grasp on cultivating his public image either. North Korean media have made bizarre anti-tobacco declarations even though Kim Jong-un is often seen in official photographs holding a lit cigarette.
There’s no way to be sure if Kim is heading to the fridge because he fears Western assassins or a coup. What’s beyond dispute is the strangeness both of his regime and the South Korean spies’ obsession.