Kim Jong-Un Looks Noticeably Thinner in North Korea TV Appearance

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared to have lost more weight after his appearance on state television, when he hosted a large national memorial service on Friday to mark 10 years since the death of his father and former leader Kim Jong-il.

The memorial took place outside the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

Choe Ryong-hae, a senior official, delivered a speech praising the late former DPRK leader, which was broadcast on Korean Central Television (KCTV).

Photos of Kim Jong-il from the memorial show him looking solemn and noticeably thinner. Kim's weight loss this year has sparked speculation about his health. In September, at a military parade in Pyonggyang, he had appeared to have lost weight.

When the North Korean leader came into power in 2011 after his father died, he was heavier and this year has looked noticeably thinner on several occasions.

His family has a long history of heart disease and diabetes, and his father officially died of a heart attack in the North Korean capital on December 17, though state media didn't announce his death until two days later.

Kim Jong-un is also known to be a lover of cheese and wine, as well as a heavy smoker.

North Korea has been going through an economic crisis over the course of the pandemic. In July, it was revealed that 2020 saw the hermit state's economy suffer its biggest contraction in 23 years as U.N. sanctions, border closures brought by COVID-19 restrictions, and typhoons together caused a famine and a financial crisis.

It marked the country's worst economic crisis since a 1990s famine, which killed up to three million people.

Tom Fowdy, a North Korea and China analyst at The Chollima Report, said Kim's weight loss could be him signalling to the public that he is recognising the tough economic environment in his country.

"Through most of 2020 and 2021, North Korea closed its border to the world entirely and cut off most of its trade, becoming more isolated than ever before. This move was to fight Covid but likely brought extraordinary hardship among some people in the country," Fowdy told Newsweek.

"Whilst there was a lot of speculation about Kim's health, his weight loss may well have been a statement of humility in recognising this environment. It coincides with a lot of rhetoric that the state economic situation is poor, and Kim's own efforts to improve it have largely been unsuccessful," he added.

Kim Jon-un did not address the crowd at the memorial ceremony on Friday, but appeared to shed a tear for his father. Standing next to his sister Kim Yo-jong and other senior officials, Kim was positioned next to a huge portrait of his father.

KCTV aired what appeared to be live footage of air raid sirens blaring and Pyongyang residents bowing towards the nearest statue of King Jong-il.

An expert told NK News that Kim Yo-jong standing closer to her brother than her last known rank would allow could mean that she recently received a promotion.

"That Kim Yo-jong stood in that specific spot could mean she replaced Kim Song-nam as director of the party's international department and was promoted to alternate member of the politburo," Martin Weiser, an independent researcher focusing on North Korean politics, said.

Kim Jong Un now vs then
A picture of North Korean leader Kim Jon-un in 2018 (left) and a photo of him on December 17, 2021, looking decidedly thinner (right). Kim's weight loss in 2021 has fueled speculation about his health. Korea Summit Press Pool/KCTV/Getty