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'Totally different': Wild theory emerges over tiny detail in Kim Jong-un photo

The supposed reappearance of Kim Jong-un after weeks of speculation over his health was meant to put such rumours to bed.

Media reports in Western media last month that claimed Kim was gravely ill after heart surgery had been rejected by South Korean officials, who claimed there was no substantial evidence to support such a claim.

Yet his first public appearance after nearly three weeks at a fertiliser factory has only heightened claims regarding Kim’s welfare, with eagle-eyed onlookers noting slight differences in the appearance of the North Korean leader before and after his hiatus from the public eye.

One theory that is now gaining considerable traction is that Kim is using a body double either due to being too ill to appear publicly or because he is hiding away amid the coronavirus pandemic.

South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers on Wednesday it believes Kim is avoiding public appearances due to COVID-19.

Some users online even believe the claimed use of a body double is because he has died.

Former British MP Louise Mensch took to Twitter to share two photos of Kim, arguing they are “not the same person,” noting his teeth appear to be differently shaped.

“Totally different. Look at those gnashes, if you must,” she said in a series of tweets.

Author and human rights activist Jennifer Zeng also shared multiple images of Kim and questioned if the man witnessed on May 1 was the “real” Kim.

She said there appeared to be differences in the appearance of his teeth, ears and hair.

Hundreds joined the debate online, with online users divided over whether the real Kim had appeared at the start of the month.

Video emerging from May 1 shows a mark on Kim’s arm with some medical experts claiming it was a sign he had undergone a recent cardiac procedure. However other experts were sceptical.

Kim is known to have used body doubles in the past and has used them over fears of being assassinated, International Business Times reported.

A mark on Kim's arm from May 1 has garnered significant attention. Source: KCTV
A mark on Kim's arm from May 1 has garnered significant attention. Source: KCTV

North Korea’s coronavirus claim questioned

Although North Korea has taken intense quarantine measures, it maintains there are no domestic infections. Many outside experts are sceptical and warn that an epidemic could be dire because of the North’s fragile health care system.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) told a closed-door parliamentary committee in Seoul that the pandemic is one of the reasons why Kim Jong-un has made much fewer public appearances this year, according to Kim Byung Kee, one of the lawmakers who attended the spy agency meeting.

As of Wednesday, Kim Jong-un appeared in public 17 times this year, compared with an average of 50 appearances in the same time period each year since he took power in late 2011, the lawmaker said, citing the NIS.

The NIS said it cannot rule out a virus outbreak in North Korea because traffic along the China-North Korea border was active before the North closed crossings in January to try to stop the spread of the virus, according to the lawmaker.

With AP

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