Photos from North Korea suggest Kim Jong Un’s weight loss had continued in the wake of rumored health scares

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Kim Jong Un and two officials hold their hands up in salute from a balcony above a military parade in Pyongyang, September 2021.

Kim Jong Un during a military parade, early Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Image provided by state news agency and cannot be independently verified. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

  • Kim Jong Un appeared to have lost even more weight at a North Korean military parade.

  • Pictures released by state media show his suit hanging more loosely than in previous years.

  • North Korea watchers have long noted the seeming weight loss, though there is no clear explanation.

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-Un appeared slimmer in new photos at a military parade, renewing longstanding speculation that he is losing weight.

Kim presided over an overnight military display of military force in Pyongyang early Thursday local time, as part of celebrations of the 73rd anniversary of the country’s founding.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks with children during a celebration of the nation’s 73rd anniversary at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency.In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks with children during a celebration of the nation’s 73rd anniversary at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency.

In several pictures released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, Kim seemed markedly slimmer than on earlier dates, with his suit appearing to fit him loosely.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, waves from a balcony toward the assembled troops and spectators during a celebration of the nation’s 73rd anniversary at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency.In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, waves from a balcony toward the assembled troops and spectators during a celebration of the nation’s 73rd anniversary at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, early Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency.

With little independent information coming from the secretive country, its leader’s weight has long been a source of speculation and potential insight into his health – and that of his regime, as Insider’s Ryan Pickrell reported.

According to South Korea’s national spy agency the National Intelligence Service (NIS) Kim weighed 300 pounds as of November 2020, which would make him severely obese.

In this March 5, 2019, photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives at Pyongyang station after his visit to Vietnam, in Pyongyang. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)In this March 5, 2019, photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives at Pyongyang station after his visit to Vietnam, in Pyongyang. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Kim in Pyongyang, March 2019. Image provided by state news agency and cannot be independently verified. Associated Press

But over time – and notably in the last year – North Korea-watchers have noted a seemingly shrinking waistline. By July 2021, NIS said he had likely lost between 22 and 44 pounds.

Kim Jong Un waves at a crowd of applausing North Korean soldiers in a black suit, July 2021 in PyongyangKim Jong Un waves at a crowd of applausing North Korean soldiers in a black suit, July 2021 in Pyongyang

Kim on July 27, 2021. Image provided by state news agency and cannot be independently verified. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

At Thursday morning’s parade, Kim again looked trimmer, as North Korea researcher Martyn Williams pointed out:

Among the theories for the apparent weight loss has been speculation about Kim’s health. During two July military events, the leader was photographed with what appeared to be a strange greenish mark and a band-aid on the back of his head.

Two side by side images of Kim Jong Un at a July conference, viewed from side on. A visible band aid on the back of his head is circled by Insider.Two side by side images of Kim Jong Un at a July conference, viewed from side on. A visible band aid on the back of his head is circled by Insider.

A July 30 report on Korea Central Television shows Kim Jong Un with the band aid on the back of his head. KCTV/Insider

In April last year, the leader was subject to rumors of another health scare after disappearing from public view for two weeks.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has not admitted having any cases and declares itself coronavirus-free.

That claim was shaken, however, by a July 2020 reshuffle of his senior leadership. It had been prompted, Kim said, by a “grave crisis” relating to the pandemic. He did not offer further detail.

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