Seoul spies: N.Korea’s Kim Jong Un ailed by insomnia, excessive drinking and smoking
South Korea’s intelligence agency says North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un is suspected of suffering from insomnia, heavy drinking and excessive smoking, a lawmaker told reporters on Wednesday.
South Korean lawmaker Yoo Sang-bum, the executive secretary for the parliamentary intelligence committee, told reporters that the National Intelligence Service believes Kim “may be experiencing a serious sleep disorder and engaging in excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption,” according to the Korea Herald, South Korea's largest English-language daily.
He added that the spy agency found North Korean authorities were “hoarding” medications used to treat insomnia such as Zolpidem and significant amounts of alcohol and foreign-brand cigarettes such as Marlboro and Dunhill.
Another issue reportedly plaguing Kim’s health was the marks on his wrist and arm which appear to be scars from scratching, the lawmaker said. He added that the scars are believed to be due to a skin condition caused by stress.
Kim's health has long been a topic of international concern and scrutiny, particularly in the West and South Korea. Given North Korea's secrecy and the potential global implications of a change in its leadership, even small signs of health issues can cause speculation and unease.
The West, including the US and UK, and their allies like South Korea, invest considerable resources into intelligence gathering on this front. This involves sophisticated satellite surveillance to monitor Kim's public and private appearances, the use of human intelligence sources within North Korea, as well as the analysis of state media broadcasts and reports. However, North Korean state media has historically been very selective and strategic in the information it releases about its leader.
South Korea, in particular, pays close attention to the health of its northern neighbor's leader due to the obvious implications for Korean peninsula security and politics. Its National Intelligence Service regularly provides updates to lawmakers on any significant changes in Kim's health, based on their own independent sources of intelligence.
Even seemingly trivial incidents can trigger waves of speculation. For instance, an unusually long absence from public view, an apparent weight loss, or signs of physical discomfort during public appearances can all become subjects of intense analysis.