North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not been seen in the past months, most speculating that he may be dealing with some health issues. He did emerge recently but his slimmer look did not escape the public eye.

Food shortages have become a concern in North Korea and locals feel that the sudden appearance of Kim was meant to ease fears. However, when he appeared, there was new concern by locals when they spotted Kim looking emaciated.

It was the first appearance of the North Korean leader in early June after not being seen for almost a month. Noticeable was his watch tightly wrapped around his much thinner wrist compared to before, a sight that sparked speculation on the health of the North Korean leader.

“If outside observers picked up on the change in Kim’s appearance, you can bet your bottom dollar that the North Korean people noticed it, too, and more quickly,” Christopher Green, a Korea specialist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, stated.

As of this writing, there is no telling if the weight loss of Kim is due to health issues. There is a possibility that he wanted to get fit as well. But the real intention of state media on his sudden appearance is what most are wondering about.

“It is a little strange that they would show him in such ill-fitting clothes, as the optics do seem to emphasize his weight loss,” Jenny Town, director of the U.S.-based 38 North project, stated.

Kim acknowledged that North Korea is faced with a tense food situation resulting from this year’s crop failure. This is tied to the economic problems due to the strict self-imposed border and movement restrictions that have slowed down trade.

Finally, mentioning a state leader’s health is a rarity. The last time it happened was in 2014 where Kim suffered from discomfort after being unseen in public.

Should Kim be suffering from health problems, succession plans are unclear. This could throw nuclear-armed North Korea’s 76-year-old system of hereditary leadership into disarray.

kim jong un
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a welcoming dinner on Sept. 18, 2018 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Getty Images/Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool

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