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Kim Jong-un having trouble sleeping, drinking heavily: lawmaker

May 31, 2023 - 18:25 By Kim Arin
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is seen at a meeting with the members of the non-permanent satellite launch preparatory committee in Pyongyang on May 16. (KCNA-Yonhap)

South Korea’s intelligence authorities suspect North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is suffering from insomnia, and drinking and smoking heavily.

Rep. Yoo Sang-bum, the executive secretary for the Parliamentary Intelligence Committee, told reporters Wednesday that the National Intelligence Service believes Kim “may be experiencing a serious sleep disorder and engaging in excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption.”

He said the spy service 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 of Kim’s health issues noted by the spy agency are marks around his wrist and on his arm that appear to be scars from scratching, he said. The scars are believed to be the result of a skin condition caused by stress and an allergic reaction.

Based on an artificial intelligence-assisted analysis, Kim is thought to weigh around 140 kilograms.

The living conditions for residents of North Korea have worsened, the spy agency found.

The incidence of violent crimes marked a threefold increase so far this year compared to the same time last year.

Deaths from hunger so far this year were three times higher than those recorded last year around the same time. The price of rice and corn recorded an on-year increase of 30 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

Deaths by suicide were also up by 40 percent compared to last year. In May, “fever” cases began spreading in Pyongyang, leading to yet another round of travel restrictions being imposed in and out of the city.

It would take at least several weeks for North Korea to make another attempt to launch a military reconnaissance satellite, the spy agency believes.

While North Korea vowed to launch a second one, it will likely take a while to remedy the defect in the engine system that the spy agency sees as one of the causes responsible for the failure of the first attempt on Wednesday morning.