Slimmer Kim Jong-un hugged by adoring kids as his troops step out in bizarre red hazmat suits for midnight parade

A SLIMMER Kim Jong-un was hugged by adoring kids as his troops marched in bizarre red hazmat suits for a midnight parade.

The "emaciated" North Korean leader waved at crowds from a platform in Kim Il Sung square but gave no speech, according to the nation's state-run media.

North Korea experts say Kim, who was at a parade celebrating the nation's founding 73 years ago, has lost even more weight, confirming state media reports from June that the dictator has slimmed down.

Martyn Williams from the North Korean think tank 38 North Project said: "It's striking how much healthier Kim Jong Un is looking in these photos from yesterday.

"However he is doing it — and there are theories — he looks a lot better than he did a few months ago."

Images released overnight show Kim looking considerably skinnier as he's hugged by two adoring children and salutes men marching biohazard suits in a weird midnight parade.

During the procession, planes flew above the rogue nation's capital Pyongyang firing flares, and paratroopers dropped from aircraft in the nights sky, according to local media reports.

But in a bizarre move, marching bands that led the parade were followed by an "emergency disease prevention unit" of men kitted up in apocalyptic-looking red hazmat suits and large gas masks in a scary display of bio-warfare.

In another startling turn, photos from Thursday's celebrations also failed to show any of North Korea's missile arsenal.

The nation often uses large ceremonies to showcase their latest military kit.

In an October parade last year, Pyongyang unveiled what analysts believed was one of the world's largest ballistic missiles while in January, the military displayed what many said was a new submarine-launched ballistic missile, according to CNN.

The latest pictures of a slim Kim have done little to ease rumours that the evil tyrant could be critically ill.

In August, a prominent member of Kim's entourage was tasked with finding a successor for the dictator.

Senior party official Jo Yong-won recently landed a new deputy leadership role and is understood to have been tasked with finding Kim's replacement.

A leading expert on North Korea has lifted the lid on the enigmatic figure, branding him a kingmaker who will prepare the next Kim for leadership.

Michael Madden, who runs North Korea Leadership Watch, an affiliate of the 38 North, said: "We can say that maybe Kim Jong-un is setting Jo Yong-won up as a kingmaker – as a person to help guide and shepherd a hereditary successor."

He added: "They’re definitely making that decision with an eye on transition.

"Why? Because air conditioners fall out of buildings, people fall in the shower and get a subdural hematoma and die of severe concussions, and people have heart attacks they were not expecting.

"So they definitely make a decision like this with an eye on a potential transition – with an eye that the leader might be incapacitated beyond repair or might die."

Maddens also pointed to the similar steps taken by Kim's father, Kim Jong-il, towards the end of his life.

"Back in 2007, his dad had a TIA (transient ischaemic attack) which is called a mini stroke," Madden said.

"His health was getting kind of precarious and he was getting into the headspace of preparing for hereditary succession.

"So he basically entrusted about five or six people whose loyalty and ambitions he didn’t need to question to serve as proxies.

"And these people took on very big, sensitive policy portfolios.


It comes as Kim looks skinnier than ever after dropping more than 40 pounds amid a flurry of speculation he underwent gastric band surgery.

The 37-year-old leader has piled on the pounds since he took power a decade ago – but he recently shed the blubber when he struggled to breathe after ballooning to 22 stone.

South Korea's spy agency said Kim has lost a lot of weight in the last year – possibly more than 40 pounds – after disappearing from the public eye for several months.

Kim was looking extra slim as he was pictured greeting commanders and political officers of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang in August in a baggy grey pinstripe suit.

According to one source, Kim's cronies said he gained weight due to work-related stress, drinking, heavy smoking and a high-fat diet.

At 5ft 7in, Kim has long been considered obese, after it was revealed he had piled on the pounds amid dire food shortages in his rogue state.

He has struggled with his health as a result of his spiralling weight and his fridge-raiding lifestyle.

Kim has a legendary appetite, apparently gorging himself on Swiss cheese, caviar and lobster while drinking multiple bottles of wine in a night.

But images of a new "slim Kim" emerged in June – and commentators have questioned whether his weight loss is intentional or due to a grave illness.

Kim might have been taking weight loss medication to shed the pounds – or he could have had a bariatric surgery procedure such as a gastric sleeve or a gastric bypass, 38 North reports.

Kim’s health has previously been a closely guarded state secret – but starving North Koreans have said they are increasingly worried about the health of their "emaciated" leader, according to state media.

A gastric band would lead to weight loss of five pounds every week – meaning it would have taken just under two months for Kim to drop 40 pounds.

Others have probed whether the Covid outbreak might have prompted drastic action from Kim, as his morbid obesity and likely cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes are high risk factors.

Those close to the North Korean despot are said to have pleaded with Kim to get fit and "take some rest" for the "good of his people".

Chosun Media reports he was eventually persuaded to head to a secretive health retreat after an intervention by key officials.

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