Rumors Swirl Around NK Leader’s Health


Observers of the hermit kingdom, commonly known as North Korea, have begun to raise a number of questions concerning Kim Jong-un’s seemingly literal disappearance from the country’s media and international political spotlight. Kim Jong-un’s last widely known public appearance occurred over a month ago, which even for North Korean leadership is an unusually long time to remain unseen by outside observers. As a result, many have begun to speculate that the North Korean leader is in ill health.

While any possible diagnoses, if one even exits, is unknown, some observers have claimed that in light of Kim Jong-un’s robust frame he may have a condition like gout or hypertension. Gout, in particular, can become a very painful ailment that can make even slight movements painful. As North Korean leaders often are portrayed as bastions of good health, a wincing or limping leader may be kept under wraps until their condition improves.

In the few known relatively recent appearances that Kim Jong-un has made in front of national media, some have claimed to see movement that indicates that he is moving with a slight limp or appears to be uncomfortable. Whether these observers are accurate in their statements is yet to be seen. However, the persistence of these rumors, along with Kim Jong-un’s own mysterious absence, has done little to quash the gossip. While these alleged videos of Kim Jong-un limping in public appearances have made the rounds among media and political circles, his seeming refusal to appear again in public enhances the spread of rumors.

The most kind of these rumors claims that Kim Jong-un had sprained his ankle while touring the country. Perhaps one of the least kind rumors states instead that Kim Jong-un has become ill due to an alleged addition to Swiss cheeses, which has caused him to become bloated. Even this rumor has received a positive spin from some analysts, who note that Kim Jong-un’s father and grandfather were also relatively portly men. An attempt to gain a large amount of weight to counter his normally otherwise thin frame may be an attempt by Kim Jong-un to visually connect himself to North Korea’s two previous dictators.

These rumors continue to spread among observers of the region despite several denials given by high-level North Korean officials that Kim Jong-un is anything but hale and hearty. One official even made a surprise announcement on the topic during the Asia Games that proclaimed the North Korean leader’s good health. However, the unusual circumstances of this announcement, at a large regional sporting event that is usually focused on remaining apolitical, has merely served to bring more attention to the whispers of poor health circulating around the region.

Additional strange behavior made by North Korean officials has also bolstered the on-going speculation. North Korea has suddenly resumed peace talks with their neighbor South Korea, which had been placed on hold by the North Korean delegation for over five years. While it may be possible that behind the scenes political and diplomatic maneuvering have once again brought North Korea to the negotiation table, many believe that this would not be happening if the North Korean government felt secure in their position. Some rumors of ill health have even begun to add the twist of potential regime change in the Hermit Kingdom.


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