North Korean leader Kim Jong Un now looks unrecognisable in photos released by the state media after dramatic weight loss.

Kim appeared to have a more slender physique in pictures released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which were captured during a ruling party meeting.

As reported by the Daily Mail on Wednesday, the government officials present spoke about “guiding the struggle” of their “Party and people to the next stage of victory.”

This comes as the country experiences economic crises due to coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, natural disasters, and sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme.

KCNA VIA KNS/AFP via Getty Image

The outlet also noted that government authorities insisted that the Kim is consuming less food “for the sake of the country” amid major food shortages.

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Reuters reported that North Korean citizens were worried over his weight loss as a source said that people’s “hearts” are breaking to see Kim “looking emaciated.”

In another article from The Guardian in October, the leader is said to be remaining healthy, with observers noting that his weight loss is probably due to “his efforts to improve his physique.”

They also said that no out-of-the-ordinary developments had been witnessed in North Korean videos.

Rumors that his weight loss was due to illness began earlier this year, but they were renewed in November when a leaner Kim made his first public appearance in almost a month.

That was his longest absence from public view in seven years.

Last year, North Korea was hit by heavy flooding, destroying crucial harvests and displacing hundreds of families. Droughts and subsequent flooding have also harmed crops this year.

It isn’t transparent whether the country’s severe food shortages will play a role in any choices made at this week’s meeting conference, which could last for days.

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