The bruise and bandage appeared toward the right side of the 37-year-old dictator’s head during a military meeting held July 24-27, per NK News, a platform dedicated to covering the secretive country. The site added that the mark was visible at other events held between July 27 and 29.
Kim has frequently faced speculation that he is in ill health despite the fact that he is not yet 40. He is widely known for his plump appearance and his chain-smoking.
In 2014, Kim was spotted limping and vanished from the public eye before returning with a cane. After a mountain hike with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in 2018, Kim appeared to be breathless, while Moon, who was 68 at the time, seemed unfazed by their climb.
“The fact that he missed this really important event and that his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, has been putting statements out in her own name all add credibly to this idea that he may have had a health incident,” Anna Fifield, a former Beijing bureau chief for The Washington Post, said at the time, adding that any information from the state should be handled with caution.
“Insight into Kim’s health … would be the toughest to get because of North Korea’s robust counterintelligence practices,” former CIA analyst Jung H. Pak said in remarks last year.
Most recently, the leader’s significant weight loss has further sparked questions about his well-being and rumors that he may have a health condition.
On social media in recent days, some have pondered whether a medical procedure could have left behind a dark mark, while others pointed out that Kim Il Sung, Kim’s grandfather and the founder of North Korea, was also pictured when he was alive with a “tennis ball-sized” growth on the back of his head.
Kim’s grandfather died of a heart attack in 1994; Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, died of the same cause in 2011 at age 69.
Kim Jong Un took over as leader of North Korea after his father’s death, a move that some hailed as a new beginning for the country, while others expressed fear that life under his leadership could become increasingly more unstable.