North Korea has warned citizens to refrain from talking about national leader Kim Jong Un’s health after he recently lost weight, calling such gossip as a “reactionary act,” sources in the country say. Government authorities have been pushing the narrative that Kim, referred to as the “Highest Dignity,” is healthy, and that his recent weight loss shows him suffering alongside his people, who are struggling with chronic food insecurity made worse by the effects of a prolonged coronavirus pandemic.
Kim was noticeably thinner when he appeared in state media in June following a prolonged absence, and speculation among the public began. RFA reported that at the time that authorities considered the spreading of rumors about the Kim’s health to be treason and launched investigations to find out where such talk began. Their attempts to stop people from discussing Kim’s health have seemingly failed, however, sources told RFA.
“As stories of health problems related to the Highest Dignity’s weight loss spread among the residents, many of the neighborhood 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,” a resident of the northeastern port city said on Aug. 15.