This combination of file photos provided by the North Korean government, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Workers Party meetings in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Feb. 8, 2021, left, and June 15, 2021.
This combination of file photos provided by the North Korean government, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Workers Party meetings in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Feb. 8, 2021, left, and June 15, 2021.
PTI

The health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has long been a source of morbid fascination in rival South Korea, which sits in the shadow of Kim's 1.2-million-strong army and his growing arsenal of nuclear-armed missiles.

Has he gained even more weight? Is he struggling for breath after relatively short walks? What about that cane? Why did he miss that important state anniversary? Now, the 37-year-old faces fresh speculation in the South about his health again. But this time, it's because he's noticeably slimmer.

In recent state media images, including those published on Wednesday, Kim appeared to have lost a large amount of weight.

The strap on his fancy watch is tighter, and his face thinner. Some observers say Kim - who is about 170 centimeters (5 feet, 8 inches) tall and has previously weighed 140 kilogrammes (308 pounds) - may have lost about 10-20 kilogrammes (22-44 pounds).

Kim, known for heavy drinking and smoking, comes from a family with a history of heart problems. His father and grandfather, who ruled North Korea before him, both died of heart issues. Experts have said his weight could increase the possibility of cardiovascular diseases.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said it has no information to share about Kim's health. His slimmer look has been the focus of keen interest in South Korea, with media outlets publishing photos of his previous and current appearances.

With inputs from AP.

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