North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Photograph:( Reuters )
Recent photos from North Korea showed Kim looking much thinner, sparking speculation that he might have health issues
South Korea's spy agency said Thursday that Kim Jong Un has lost 44 pounds amid the food crisis in North Korea.
Earlier, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization had released a report stating that North Korea is facing a severe food shortage equivalent to 860,000 tonnes this year.
The National Intelligence Service has told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing that the North Korean leader does not have any health problem despite his recent weight loss.
The spy agency said it has seen no intelligence that hospitals in charge of Kim's health have imported medicines, and that he has recently presided over meetings for several hours and walked normally.
Recent photos from North Korea showed Kim looking much thinner, sparking speculation that he might have health issues.
The NIS said it believes Kim went on a diet to improve his health and lost 10-20 kilograms (22-44 pounds) between February and June.
When Kim reappeared in state media in June after not being seen in public for almost a month, analysts at NK News, a Seoul-based website that monitors North Korea, noted that his watch appeared to be fastened more tightly than before around an apparently slimmer wrist.
Given Kim's tight grip on power in North Korea, and the uncertainty over any plans for a successor, international media, spy agencies, and specialists closely watch his health.
Early last year speculation about Kim’s health exploded after he missed the birth anniversary celebrations of state founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, only to reappear in public in early May.
In 2014, state media reported that Kim was suffering from "discomfort", after a prolonged period out of the public eye.
(With inputs from agencies)