Kim Jong-un appears to have lost weight in first public appearance since month-long absence sparked health rumours

KIM Jong-un appears to have shed more pounds after reappearing for the first time since his month-long absence sparked fresh speculation about his health.

The North Korean despot returned after his longest absence in seven years for a visit to a “utopian model rural city” project in the north of the country, according to state media.

Dressing in a long black leather coat, Kim inspected the towns surrounding the city of Samjiyon as part of a project to rebuild every small town in the area, the Voice of Korea reported.

According to NK News, Kim has called for the roads to be repaved every year, for new machinery to be given to a model potato farm, and for the local forest to be protected from climate change. 

"The construction of Samjiyon City is a starting point of a new revolution to lead the local people to a civilized material and cultural life," he reportedly said.

The dictator had not been seen since a huge missile exhibition 30 days ago — his longest disappearance from public life for seven years.

North Korean observers said the absence was the longest period of absence since 2011.

It follows reports about his health which were made earlier this year.

His last appearance on state media is believed to have taken place on October 12 during coverage of a massive missile exhibition in Pyongyang the day before.

He was seen on state channels until Tuesday — yet satellite imagery has shown increased activity at his east coast beach house and a lakeside mansion near the capital, NK News reports.

Observers claimed it was his longest absence for seven years amid speculation in recent months about his health.

Kim has taken at least seven breaks lasting at least two weeks in 2021, according to NK News. 

He vanished from public view for long stretches in 2020.

In June, Kim reappeared in public looking substantially thinner than before, following a nearly month-long absence. 

The North Korean leader has sparked health fears in recent months after shedding more than 40 pounds as commentators questioned whether his weight loss is intentional or due to a grave illness.

Images of a trimmer Kim sporting a beige suit with a serious look on his face have now led to conspiracy theorists claiming he has been replaced by a lookalike.

"Kim Jong-Un has been replaced by a lookalike," one online sleuth wrote on Reddit.

But many were quick to shoot down the whacky claim, saying Kim looks the same – just slimmer.

One replied: "He lost that baby fat and is showing his grown man face?"

Another added: "I was thinking the ears were identical.

"So identical, in fact, that I’m convinced this is just a slimmer, healthier Kim."

Last year, photos of Kim released 20 days after he mysteriously disappeared caused rumours the despot used a lookalike as some speculated the double could have been standing in due to the leader's poor health, or even death.

Sleuths pointed to slight differences in Kim's nose, wrinkles, teeth, cupid's bow, hairline and ears. 

The latest body double claims come after it was reported North Korea is hunting for a Kim successor amid fears the tyrant's health is failing after his sudden weight loss.

Starving North Koreans are increasingly worried about the health of "emaciated" Kim in the wake of his dramatic weight loss after he used to top 22 stone, according to state media.

And a prominent member of Kim's entourage has now been tasked to find a successor for the dictator as rumours mount over his failing health.

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