North Korea’s Kim Jong Un seen with head bandage, fuels speculation about health

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has appeared in recent days with a bandage about the size of a few postage stamps on the back of his head, in the latest episode to stoke speculation about the reclusive leader’s health. According to the NK News site, Kim Jong Un appeared at events of the Korean People’s Army from July 24 to July 27 and was also seen in footage of a war veterans conference and related programmes from July 27 to July 29.

Images from a military meeting held July 24-27 showed the 37-year-old dictator with a bruise and bandage toward the right side of his head. There were also images at events in late July in which the bandage was gone and a dark greenish spot was visible. The website reported that the North Korean leader was also spotted without the bandage with dark greenish spot or bruise on the back side of head. “The cause or nature of the large, dark green spot or bruise on the rear right side of his head, which was covered with a bandage in some footage, is still unknown and is difficult to diagnose using only images,” the NK News said. While the leader’s health is one of the mostly closely guarded secrets in North Korea, it has allowed rare glimpses into the 37-year-old leader’s condition as he tries to revive the economy and battles food shortages. State propaganda for decades has portrayed the supreme leaders as being so people-focused that they risk their own well-being.

In June, state media cited a citizen as saying North Koreans broke down in tears over seeing a dramatically thinner Kim, who returned to the public eye cutting a much thinner figure after being absent for most of May. The health of Kim Jong Un has been a topic of global fascination ever since he took over the reins following his father’s demise in 2011. Reports over the years have hinted that Kim Jong Un is a chain smoker.