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(LEAD) N.K. leader loses 20 kilograms, has no health issues: Seoul's spy agency

17:10 October 28, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with details from 2nd para)
By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lost around 20 kilograms after previously weighing about 140 kg, but he appears to have no health issues, South Korea's spy agency was quoted as saying Thursday.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) gave the briefing during a closed-door parliamentary session, rejecting rumors that the communist regime was using a stand-in for Kim during recent public appearances, Rep. Kim Byung-kee of the ruling Democratic Party told reporters.

The NIS made the assessment after conducting a detailed study of the North Korean leader's health using artificial intelligence and other scientific methods, the lawmaker said.

Kim's health has been a frequent subject of speculation due to the political implications in the event that he is unable to perform his duties. No known successor has been appointed.

The NIS also reported North Korea could have reprocessed spent nuclear fuel rods at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon from February to July. By reprocessing spent fuel rods, the North can harvest weapons-grade plutonium.

Kim has also removed portraits of his father and grandfather, former leaders Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, from the backdrop of official meetings, the agency said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers a congratulatory speech during a visit to a defense development exhibition, Self-Defence-2021, in Pyongyang on Oct. 11, 2021, in this file photo released by the Korean Central News Agency. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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