That Kim Jong-un is carrying a few extra pounds has been obvious since he became North Korea’s leader in late 2011. But speculation that his increasing weight – apparently partly due to a weakness for cheese – has brought on debilitating spells of gout rose dramatically this week, after he failed to attend an important parliamentary session.
Rumours that Kim, reputedly a heavy smoker, is in less than robust health surfaced earlier this year when state TV footage showed him with a pronounced limp and looking noticeably bulkier than he did during his first few months as leader.
On Friday, North Korean authorities, in a rare display of openness about their leader’s health, admitted for the first time that Kim was suffering from an “uncomfortable physical condition”, although they did not confirm rumours that the 31-year-old, Swiss-educated leader was suffering from gout. …
In a one-hour documentary aired on Thursday that showed a limping Kim visiting a factory near Pyongyang, the narrator said: “The wealth and prosperity of our socialism is thanks to the painstaking efforts of our marshal, who keeps lighting the path for the people, like the flicker of a flame, despite suffering discomfort.”
Kim’s three-week public absence comes months after he was shown limping, and wearing loose clothes, during inspections of military units and factories.