SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a popular Pyongyang restaurant run by his military cronies and lost 20 kilograms (44 pounds), a fellow officer told Seoul’s spy agency, South Korean media reported Monday.
The most recent public reports on Kim Jong Un’s health indicate the North Korean leader is in good health for someone his age.
“He spoke to a large number of officers of an unidentified party who have met to collect food at the restaurant,” a spy agency officer told South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.
The officer, who visited Pyongyang in August after rumors spread that Kim’s diabetes has become an extreme case of hyperthyroidism, added that Kim appeared healthy, according to the report.
Another South Korean newspaper, the JoongAng Ilbo, earlier reported that an officer accompanied Kim as he visited the Pyongyang Restaurant 10 days ago. He was reportedly in good shape and was out jogging in the morning, having not rested since arriving in Pyongyang in early August.
“I have come to pay my respects. I am here so I can see that you do not seem ill,” the official quoted Kim as saying during his meeting with about 20 officers of an unidentified party, the newspaper reported.
“I am aware that many people have doubts about my health but I will pursue my life with my mind without any fear because I am the master of my own fate,” the officer quoted Kim as saying.
Jung Yeon-je / AP Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, arrives at Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, on July 27, 2017. Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, arrives at Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, on July 27, 2017. (Jung Yeon-je / AP)
South Korean media reported earlier this year that Kim Jong Un was also losing weight because of diabetes. The Kim family has an extensive history of gout and gynaecological problems, and Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, was hospitalized for several weeks in 2012 with gout, apparently caused by a vitamin deficiency.
South Korean media has reported on Kim Jong Un’s weight for years.
Kim Jong Un spent a lot of time at a Pyongyang restaurant that specializes in Asian barbecue from his first years in power, in 2012. When he ordered plates of steaming hot dishes, South Korean media reported that he was looking for fish or squid, a healthy snack.
Kim’s health has sometimes been a question mark for foreign journalists and media observers, who generally report on the details of his daily activities and accomplishments.
The most recent official public disclosure of Kim’s health comes from South Korea’s intelligence agency, which went to Pyongyang in August after rumors flew that Kim might be suffering from extreme fatigue or the onset of diabetes.
The agency could not be reached for comment Monday.
South Korean analysts said Kim Jong Un has shown signs of wanting to take leadership in the North Korea economy, more than in the military.
North Korea abandoned a previous effort to build an economy in the 1980s after years of disastrous experiments with market reforms.
Many North Koreans worked in poorly organized markets to buy food and farm scraps that were thought to be wasted or surplus. The markets became so well established that the government often cut off their access to food or other materials to stifle them, and forced many to convert into state farms, according to the North Korean economist Hyang-woo Shin.
Kim took power after his father’s death in 2011, and North Korea has boasted many economic reforms during the leader’s time in power. But the people there still rely largely on state-subsidized food and income generated by the state, rather than productive private activity in the economy.