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Asia Minute: Weight Watching in North Korea

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Wikipedia Commons

News about North Korea often concerns missile launches and military threats. But officials from South Korea’s intelligence agency focused on some other news late last week—some personal details about North Korea’s leader. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Kim Jong Un is putting on weight….apparently quite a bit of it.  Maybe you’ve noticed the North Korean leader looks a little chunkier than he used to if you pay attention to those occasional scenes from government television.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service pays close attention—and told the parliament’s intelligence committee on Friday that Kim has packed on nearly ninety pounds over the last four years….estimating he currently tips the scales at a little under 300 pounds.

The spies are involved in this weight-watching because of the potential health effects.  The chair of the intelligence committee says Kim is suffering from insomnia and some unidentified diseases associated with obesity.  He adds that the North Korean leader is under a lot of stress because of fears about his safety….which has led to binge eating and extensive drinking.

Earlier last week, North Korean television surprisingly showed a quick shot of Kim sleeping during a meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly.  Napping during government events can be dangerous in North Korea, unless your title is something like Dear Respected Comrade and Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army.  South Korea’s National Intelligence Service says a senior military official fell asleep at a military rally last year near Pyongyang….and Dear Respected Comrade Kim had him executed.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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