Kim Jong-un: North Korean Leader Suffered From Various Health Issues Before Reported Death

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has a long history of health problems, as did his grandfather and father before him. Kim's health has been at the center of speculation this weekend, following reports of a botched surgery earlier this month. There have also been unconfirmed reports of his death. He is believed to be 36 years old, and has been leading the country since his father Kim Jong-il, reportedly died of a heart attack in 2011 at age 70.

Kim is overweight for a person who only stands 5 feet, 6 inches tall. In 2016, there was speculation that he weighs almost 300 pounds, Fox News reported at the time. He has been photographed walking with a cane and gained almost 70 pounds between 2011 and 2016. He also reportedly suffers from gout and is a heavy smoker.

In 2014, there was speculation that the gout was linked to his love of high-quality cheese, reports the International Business Times. At the time, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Kim suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, hyperuricemia (high uric acid) and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). North Korea never made an official response. After video of Kim walking with a slight limp surfaced, a state-controlled television host said, "The wealth and prosperity of our socialism is thanks to the painstaking efforts of our marshal, who keeps lighting the path for people, like the flicker of a flame, despite suffering discomfort."

That same year, the United Nations released a report on Kim's luxury lifestyle, which he maintains despite the poor quality of life his citizens face, reports Newsweek. He reportedly bought $30 million worth of alcohol that year, as well as $37 million of electronic goods and $8.2 million on watches. The UN estimated that the North Korean government spent $645.8 million on luxury goods in 2012, the same year Kim developed a cyst on his ankle that needed to be removed.


Kim's predecessors as rulers of North Korea also faced health problems. His father, Kim Jong-il, died from a heart attack at 70 in 2011. He was a smoker and diabetic who reportedly assigned his scientists to recreate his favorite cigarettes during North Korea's famine in the 1990s, reports the New York Post. He also reportedly loved processed foods and sent government aides to Beijing to buy McDonald's Big Macs. He was also a heavy drinker. Kim Jong-il had a stroke in 2008 and there was speculations he had a heart attack in 2007.

In 1994, Kim's grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, died of a heart attack age age 82. He was in power for almost 50 years. When Kim Il-Sung was photographed outside of North Korea, he was seen with a tennis ball-sized growth on his neck. The growth was close to his brain and spinal cord, making it inoperable. The growth was hidden or airbrushed out in official photos.