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Kim Jong-un's apparent weight loss could be a "propaganda stunt" by North Korea's reclusive regime, experts have claimed.
Pictures released by the state media sparked concern over the dictator's mystery weight loss.
After watching footage of the leader, an unnamed resident from the capital Pyongyang was quoted as saying: "Seeing respected general secretary Kim Jong-un looking emaciated breaks our people's heart so much.
"Everyone is saying that their tears welled up."
But observers think the regime could see the "propaganda value" of releasing the pictures and footage of Kim at a time when the country is suffering one of its worst famines in decades, MSN.com reports.
Jenny Town, director of 38 North, which monitors North Korea, said: "It is a little strange that they would show him in such ill-fitting clothes, as the optics do seem to emphasise his weight loss."
Chad O'Carroll, boss of the Seoul-based Korea Risk Group, added: "The most likely reason they would mention his declining weight in this way would, in my opinion, be related to ongoing Covid-19 border measures.
"Regardless of the motivation for Kim's rapid weight loss, it seems there is propaganda value in showing that even the leader of North Korea is enduring the same food shortages that are hitting the country at the current time."
Dictator Kim reappeared after a month away from public life earlier in June, where images suggest he has noticeably lose weight.
Recently it was reported that North Korea is likely to run out of food in just two months.
It is feared the country faces a repeat of the famine in the 1990s which killed millions of people.
The prices of staple foods have skyrocketed, leaving many North Koreans unable to feed themselves.
Speculation about Kim's apparent weight loss has heightened following analysis of his wristwatch.
The strap appears to be fastened tighter than normal during a politburo session of the ruling party earlier this month.
It made reporters and residents concerned over his weight.
Earlier this month he admitted the country was facing a "tense" food situation caused in part by the Covid-19 pandemic and also flooding due to vicious typhoons.
- Weight Loss
- North Korea Dprk
- Kim Jong Un
- In the News
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