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Photos from North Korea suggest Kim Jong Un's weight loss has 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 on Thursday in a photo provided by a North Korean state news agency. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
  • Kim Jong Un appeared at a military parade on Thursday and seemed to have lost even more weight.

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

  • North Korea watchers have long noted Kim's apparent weight loss, though there's no clear explanation.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared slimmer in new photos at a military parade, renewing longstanding speculation that he's losing weight.

Kim presided over a display of military force in Pyongyang early Thursday as part of celebrations for 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.
Kim pictured on Thursday in a photo from the state news agency. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

In several pictures released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, Kim seemed markedly slimmer than he had on earlier dates. His suit appeared 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.
Kim at the military parade on Thursday. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

With little independent information coming from the secretive country, its leader's weight and health - and the health of the country - have long been sources of speculation, Insider's Ryan Pickrell reported.

South Korea's spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, said in November that Kim weighed about 300 pounds, 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)
Kim in Pyongyang in March 2019 in a photo provided by the state news agency. Associated Press

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

Kim Jong Un waves at a crowd of applausing North Korean soldiers in a black suit, July 2021 in Pyongyang
Kim on July 27. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

Martyn Williams, who researches North Korea, said that at Thursday's parade Kim again looked trimmer:

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The apparent weight loss has fueled speculation about Kim's health. During two military events in July, the leader was photographed with what appeared to be a strange greenish mark and a bandage 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.
A July 30 report on Korea Central Television appeared to show Kim with bandages on the back of his head. KCTV/Insider

In April 2020, he was the subject of rumors of a health scare after he disappeared from public view for two weeks.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has claimed to have no cases and declared itself coronavirus-free.

That claim was shaken, however, by a reshuffling of Kim's senior leadership in July that was prompted, Kim said, by a "grave crisis" relating to the pandemic. He did not offer details.

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