The health of the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un has been a subject of great interest to media and governments around the world. So when he finally reappeared last week after a gap of 20 days, cutting the ribbon at the opening of a fertilizer factory, speculation was inevitable.
Given the fact that Kim had been mysteriously missing from the public eye amid the coronavirus pandemic, only to resurface almost a month later without any explanation has led to a number of conspiracy theories.
Before this, Kim had last been seen in the beginning of April. Soon after, news reports of him being in poor health or having just undergone heart surgery began doing the rounds.
Kim is ill. Kim is having surgery. Kim is recuperating after a taxing surgery. Kim is on his deathbed. Kim is dead. Kim is alive.
These were just some of the rumours surrounding the Supreme Leader. North Korea tried to put all rumours to rest with Kim arriving for a public event on May 2, looking quite healthy.
A cynical few, however, refused to believe the news and are now convinced that Kim Jong Un is probably using a body double to compensate for his ailing health. Conspiracy theories suggest that like other dictators (including Adolph Hitler who notoriously used multiple body doubles as well as Saddam Hussain), Kim also has been using a doppelganger to make public appearances on his behalf.
Twitter users have been analysing photos from Kim's latest appearance and those taken previously, with special emphasis on his teeth and ears, to understand if a body double has been used.
Former member of the British Parliament Louise Mensch is convinced that Kim's teeth look very different from the ones that had been taken a few years ago.
It’s not the same person. But not going to argue it. Hairy moment when I thought my information was wrong. It wasn’t wrong though. Not sure whether it suits us to go along with it or not, but these two are not the same. pic.twitter.com/rV3qgK281p— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) May 2, 2020
Human rights activist Jennifer Zeng was also one of the first people to point out that there are discrepancies in Kim's hairline, teeth structure and ears.
Is the Kim Jong-un appearing on May 1 the real one? 4 things to watch: 1. Teeth 2. Ears 3. Hair 4. Sister 金正恩露面被疑替身 網友提出4個理由. 1. 牙齒明顯不同 2 耳朵形狀不同 3 神情和頭髮 4 妹妹年輕了十歲 pic.twitter.com/ngKIyNtPpT— Jennifer Zeng 曾錚 (@jenniferatntd) May 2, 2020
Other users have tweeted too:
The chipped incisor is a definite giveaway it’s not Kim Jong Un.So why a body double? If he’s dead why not just announce it and crown his successor? https://t.co/AVUz7Kl9CS— August September (@SeptAugustus) May 2, 2020
Have y’all seen the latest pics of Kim Jong Un? He looks slightly different. My theory is either that he died and was replaced by a clone/lookalike, or was out of the public eye for so long bc he was recovering from plastic surgery— (@BacquesJrel) May 2, 2020
His nose seems a little bit more rounded, his hairline looks wider, and he used to have WAY more wrinkles around the eyes when he smiled. The hairline may just be receding or a fresh new haircut, but the smoother eyes and slightly different nose have me questioning things— (@BacquesJrel) May 2, 2020
International Business Times reports that Kim Jong has earlier used body doubles numerous times and often uses them to ward off assination attempts by his enemies. However, it also has to be kept in mind that some of the photos being used for comparison are at least a decade old and changes in height, weight, build and shape of teeth may vary.