The world is fascinated by North Korea, and often seems happy to believe the wilder stories – whether there is evidence or not. Kim’s absence is no different: One of the strangest stories doing the rounds is an ambiguously sourced one in a British newspaper that suggests that Kim has become addicted to Swiss cheese. “The tubby North Korean dictator has become hooked on Emmental,” the Daily Mirror reported this week, adding that Kim had “gorged on so much that he has ballooned in size and is now walking with a limp.”
Weirdly, there might be a kernel of truth there: Kim has clearly put on weight since becoming leader, and analysts say it may be causing wider health problems. “Any perceptive viewer of the evening news within the DPRK will already know that Kim Jong-un has been limping about, even requiring the use of a golf cart on several occasions,” says Adam Cathcart, editor in chief of North Korea-watching Web site Sino-NK.
There are suggestions that the North Korean leader could have gout or diabetes, though his health problems may be simpler. Kim “needs to lose weight, eat better and exercise more,” Aidan Foster Carter, an honorary senior research fellow in sociology and modern Korea at Leeds University, explains in an e-mail. “More no-brainer than mystery imho, this one,” he added.
[Adam Taylor, writing in The Washington Post]