Amid speculation of Kim Jong Eun’s health issues after his
absence at yesterday’s second session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly
[SPA], and from state media for the past three weeks [the last was at a concert
with his wife on September 3rd], a piece aired on North Korea’s state-run Chosun Central TV has made official mention of the leader’s “indisposed condition.”
The narration of the video, aired on September 25th, stated,
“ Despite some discomfort, our Marshal continues to come out and lead the
people,” showing footage of the leader limping at an onsite visit to the
Taedonggang Tile Factory last month. This has been the first acknowledgement of
any sort to Kim Jong Eun’s health in official state media.
The hour-long documentary titled, “Improving the Lives of
the People” focuses on Kim Jong Eun’s leadership and was aired two hours prior
to the broadcast of the second session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly
As Kim carts heavy items, sweat dripping from his face, the
film’s narration states, “His whole body is drenched in sweat but he does not
stop working hard, instead showing concern for the health of the other
Featuring uncensored footage of Kim in less than perfect
condition, and alluding to his “discomfort” in a nation where defects of the leadership
are under careful management, is most likely a measure by the authorities to
prevent the spread of groundless rumors: namely that of Kim’s declining health
and the state’s attempts to cover it up.
Moreover, reference to Kim Jong Eun’s “hard work for the
betterment of the people” can be employed as propaganda to foster people’s
loyalty for the leadership. It is likely that Chosun Central TV aired the video
so closely before the 13th SPA meeting as a preemptive measure to quash anxiety
and chaos ensuing from residents perplexed as to why the leader failed to
attend the event.
Meanwhile, a Rodong Sinmun report on September
23rd alluded to the leader’s fatigue brought on by his guidance of rigorous
military training exercises during the summer, fuelling further speculation
about Kim’s health condition, particularly after the leader was shown limping in July.