An even more svelte-looking Kim Jong Un was the main attraction at a military parade in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, where public health workers marched in gas masks and hazmat suits in a display of force against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The slimmed-down leader — who wore a pale gray suit and matching tie for the event celebrating the country’s 73rd anniversary – was all smiles as he watched the procession, which notably did not feature the usual array of ballistic missiles.
“It’s striking how much healthier Kim Jong Un is looking in these photos from yesterday,” journalist and rogue regime researcher Martyn Williams tweeted.
“However he is doing it—and there are theories—he looks a lot better than he did a few months ago,” he added.
Ryan Chan, a correspondent for Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily News, tweeted that he has “never seen Kim Jong Un in such a healthier body shape before.”
Kim, who apparently did not deliver a speech during the event, was observed kissing children who presented him with flowers and waved to the crowd before taking his spot at a balcony overlooking Kim Il Sung Square, named after his grandfather who founded the nation in 1948.
Kim has made headlines in recent weeks over his shrinking waistline.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service has estimated that the formerly corpulent dictator has lost up to 44 pounds.
Recent images of the famously reclusive and rotund leader — who previously weighed 308 pounds — appeared to show that the 37-year-old has lost a large chunk of weight, sparking renewed speculation about his health.
In a marked departure from past militaristic displays of the Hermit Kingdom’s arsenal, the parade focused on civil defense forces, personnel wearing personal protective equipment and paramilitary organizations.
Experts say the parade reflected the harsh challenges facing the country as its ravaged economy is further strained by continuing US-led sanctions, pandemic-related border closings and flooding that caused food shortages in recent years.
“The parade shows that the government felt a need to build unity domestically — the population is clearly suffering amid the pandemic and social complaints are likely building up,” said Hong Min, an analyst at South Korea’s Institute for National Unification.
“North Korea needs to enforce military-like discipline while mobilizing its civilians in campaigns to rebuild the economy and areas damaged by floods. There aren’t many ways for the leadership to encourage and motivate them, other then showcasing them on televised parades,” Hong said.
He said it would be problematic for Pyongyang to flaunt provocative weapons and create diplomatic friction when it will need to rely on the outside world for COVID-19 vaccines.
The Korean Central News Agency praised anti-virus workers with “firmly protecting the security of the country and its people from the worldwide pandemic.”
Ri Il Hwan, a member of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Politburo, said in a speech that Pyongyang will continue to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities and “firmly defend the dignity and fundamental interests of our people and solve everything our own way with our own efforts on the principle of self-reliance.”
The country has not confirmed any COVID-19 cases, but closed borders and imposed strict prevention measures as it deems the pandemic a matter of national survival.
With Post Wires