Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un appears thinner than ever before as he made an appearance in another propaganda broadcast.
The tyrant’s health has sparked worldwide debate with North Koreans ordered not to discuss the 37-year-old’s slim-line new look.
He was seen with a very loose fitting jacket and excess skin sagging around his neck at the Youth Day celebrations in Pyongyang.
Wearing a generous white shirt during his TV appearance, he was seen walking in front of a stand filled with hundreds of school children. Some were crying as he waved to the crowds.
It is understood that he has lost 44 pounds in a year – more than three stone in weight.
Chain-smoking, cheese-gorging Kim had reportedly gained a stone every year since coming into power in 2011.
His health has been heavily discussed with reports claiming he secretly attended a health retreat after aides became concerned about his heavy figure.
There were other suggestions that he had a gastric band fitted and his supposed health worries left some in the country “heartbroken”.
Rumours about the dictator’s health forced Pyongyang to outlaw gossip about his weight earlier this year.
Spreading rumours speculating about his health is regarded as treason by the government, a North Korean insider told the US-backed website Radio Free Asia.
His personal life is said to be off limits for tightly-controlled North Korea’s state media. He has never even confirmed how many children he has fathered.
The source said: “As stories of health problems related to the Highest Dignity’s weight loss spread among the residents, many of the neighbourhood watch units here in Chongjin made official statements to the people at their weekly meeting, saying that it is a ‘reactionary act’ to talk about the leader’s health.
“The neighbourhood watch units also said the sudden weight loss is not due to a health problem, but rather that he is suffering in solitude for the sake of the country and people in crisis.”
He looked noticeably less overweight in June after pictures published by Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency and on state television.
According to South Korea’s national intelligence, he tipped the scales at 22 stone last year, which would give him a classification of morbidly obese.
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A newspaper reported he was persuaded to head to a secretive health retreat after an intervention by officials, with a source saying they had “expressed worries about his health as he gained excessive weight”.
“On April 15, the birthday of regime founder Kim Il-sung, the family of an anti-Japanese partisan fighter sent a letter to Kim to ask him to ‘lose weight and take some rest'”, the source claimed.
In an interview aired by state broadcaster KRT in June, one unnamed man said: “Seeing respected general secretary Kim Jong-un looking emaciated breaks our people’s heart so much.
“Everyone is saying that their tears welled up.”