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Spy agency says hard living is taking a toll on North Korean leader’s health

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks to a spy satellite launch committee in footage broadcast by the state-controlled Korean Central Television on May 16. A pack of cigarettes and an ashtray flank him on the desk. [YONHAP]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks to a spy satellite launch committee in footage broadcast by the state-controlled Korean Central Television on May 16. A pack of cigarettes and an ashtray flank him on the desk. [YONHAP]

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) told a parliamentary committee that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suffers from multiple health problems tied to his hard drinking and smoking habits, a People Power Party (PPP) lawmaker told reporters Wednesday.

According to Rep. Yoo Sang-bum, who serves as the executive secretary of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee, the spy agency briefed lawmakers on Kim’s current state of health and said the North Korean leader likely suffers from insomnia and other ”serious sleeping disorders.”

The NIS also told the committee that the leader is “importing large quantities of foreign cigarettes, such as Marlboro and Dunhill, and high-end liquor,” according to the PPP lawmaker.

Yoo added that spy agency is keeping its eye on the possibility that “Kim’s insomnia is worsening as he increases his dependence on nicotine and alcohol, which could lead to a vicious cycle.”

The NIS noted during the briefing that “dark circles were clearly visible under [Kim’s] eyes during a public event on May 16, highlighting his tired appearance.”

The spy agency also estimated the North Korean leader’s body weight at 140 kilograms (308 pounds) using analysis that relies on artificial intelligence, according to Yoo.

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]

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