Is Kim Jong Un Slowly Dying? How the North Korean Leader’s Horrible Habits Are Destroying His Health

Kim Jong Un may only be in his 30s, but his lifestyle choices have many experts concerned about his health. The North Korean dictator is known for spending millions of dollars on his unhealthy food and drink habits. Plus, there are many other factors that have us questioning how long it will be until these bad decisions kill him. The explanation for one disease will shock you (page 8).

He has terrible eating habits

Emmemental cheese seen on a table.

His favorite cheese is quite fattening. | Mariamarmar/iStock/Getty Images

Kim’s cheese obsession is no secret. It was once rumored that he had to step out of the public eye a few years back because he ate too much Emmental cheese. He also eats a lot of cured meats, such as salami and prosciutto, which are very high in sodium. High-sodium foods can create serious health problems down the road. Plus, his former sushi chef said he indulged in sushi — but not the healthy kind you might think. He always opted for rolls with the fatty part of the tuna.

Next: It’s no surprise that Kim has these types of diseases.

He has diabetes and high blood pressure

Kim Jong Un waves while walking past an army.

His bad diet might be to blame. | STR/AFP/Getty Images

Diabetes and high blood pressure are both extremely concerning. Diabetes affects the way the body processes sugar. And with Kim’s unhealthy diet, carb-filled foods, such as sushi rice, should be off-limits. His high sodium intake from foods, such as cured meats and cheese, are likely responsible for his high blood pressure. This can lead to blockages in blood vessels, resulting in stroke or heart attack and a premature death for Kim.

Next: Kim spends $30 million a year on this nonessential food item.

He drinks too much

Alcoholic Whiskey Bourbon in a Glass with Ice.

Alcohol is one of his vices. |

Kim loves his liquor, and he’s not sipping on one glass of Barefoot every night with dinner, either. Kim spends upward of $30 million per year on alcohol, and he prefers expensive brands like Hennessy. Also, he drinks snake wine — that’s wine with a dead cobra inside the bottle. Everyone has their preference.

But regardless of what he’s drinking, he’s consuming too much of it. The average American household spends about $435 per year on alcohol. While Kim does purchase very expensive liquor, it’s still a sign that he’s drinking way too much. Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to serious liver damage and a slew of other health problems.

Next: Kim could literally eat himself to death.

He’s overweight

Kim Jong Un waves from the top of a vehicle.

His weight can be affecting his health. | STR/AFP/Getty Images

The most obvious health concern about Kim is his weight. With diseases like diabetes, it’s important to keep weight under control to ensure you’re prolonging good health. In Kim’s situation, his diabetes and high blood pressure seem like a direct result of his obesity. If he continues to gorge himself with expensive cheeses and unhealthy liquor, plus all of the sodium he consumes from his love for cured meats, he could literally eat himself to death.

Next: Kim probably deals with this, too.

He might have gout

Kim Jong Un walking in front of his military team.

Some issues might run in the family. | KNS/AFP/Getty Images.

Kim has been seen limping a few times before, likely due to strain on his legs. Experts believe the leader has gout, which is pain and inflammation from too much uric acid in the joints. The pain can happen suddenly, which would explain why Kim’s limp comes and goes. His rich diet is likely what caused the inflammation. There are reports that his father, former leader Kim Jong Il, also had gout.

Next: As if he weren’t unhealthy enough, he also does this terrible habit.

He smokes heavily

Kim Jon-Un waves from the top of a balcony.

Cigarettes will make his conditions worse. | Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Any leadership position comes with a lot of stress. Kim’s leadership of North Korea is no exception (although he seems far more concerned with feeding himself than helping his people get out of poverty). He’s been seen smoking quite often. And while that could be a way to handle the stress of leading one of the world’s most hated countries, it could also just be a bad habit. He even lets others smoke with him as a reward. Smoking leads to health problems, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Next: You need this to survive.

Sleep deprivation

Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol-Ju

Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol-Ju | AFP/Getty Images

An intelligence service reports that Kim might be having difficulty sleeping. After making high-level purges in his own regime, he fears for his own life. Allegedly, this fear keeps him up at night, and he simply isn’t getting enough sleep. In fact, the report mentions he has insomnia.

Next: Unsavory appetites

Sexually transmitted diseases?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) and his wife Ri Sol-Ju

Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol-Ju | STR/AFP/Getty Images

There are also rumors swirling around of Kim having contracted various STDs. A popular one claims he may have syphilis. This might not be too far-fetched. Kim’s father was believed to have a range of STDs, including syphilis. The possible reason? Famine in North Korea fueled a desperate sex trade, and there are claims that young North Korean girls are coerced into prostitution for high-ranking officials.

Next: Kim is paranoid and probably won’t get help.

He likely won’t do anything about it

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a fruit farm.

He could take small steps in the right direction.  | STR/AFP/Getty Images

The Kim family is paranoid. It was reported that Kim’s grandfather never got a tumor removed from his neck because he was too worried about being killed. “Dictators are very suspicious of potential challengers, and of course, they are vulnerable when sedated,” Daniel Pinkston, deputy project director for the North East Asian program at the International Crisis Group, told The Guardian.

If Kim keeps up his unhealthy habits, he might eventually need surgery, such as a bypass to prevent further damage to his heart. The thought of going under the knife may make him paranoid that someone will do something to kill him. Letting his guard down to change his habits, such as hiring a new chef to prepare healthier food, likely also comes with the worry that his food might be poisoned.

Next: Kim Jong Un’s people are also facing extreme health problems, such as a 10-inch parasite for starters.

This patient’s 10-inch parasite horrified doctors

Medical team preparing equipment for surgery.

This rare occurrence is becoming much more common. | Hin255/iStock/Getty Images

In more recent news, a defector from North Korea was operated on by surgeons in South Korea after being shot by his former comrades when attempting to flee the country. The BBC reports the patient has a number of large parasites in his body that are making it harder for him to heal.

South Korean doctor Lee Cook Jong, who has “never seen anything like this” in the entirety of his 20 years as a medical professional, removed one parasite from the defector’s intestines that was 11 inches long. He probably got these bugs by eating contaminated food, as North Korea uses human feces as fertilizer. And it’s likely others in the country have the same issue.

Next: North Korea’s medical system is among the worst.

The medical system is totally corrupt

A doctor uses an iPad to look at a medical record.

Many people are often turned away at hospitals and clinics. | Miya227/iStock/Getty Images

North Korea has a long history of not-so-stellar health care. The Los Angeles Times says back in 2010, Amnesty International found the country’s health care system couldn’t provide sterilized needles, clean water, and food or medicine in hospitals — and many of the patients didn’t even have anesthesia for surgery. While the global average was to spend $716 per capita on health care, North Korea spent just $1.

A contributor for Business Insider had his own horrifying experience getting sick in North Korea. It was here he learned of the deeply corrupt health care system. For patients who were too poor to afford care, doctors would turn them away, and they’d never get treatment.

Next: Babies are seven times more like to die.

The infant mortality rate is shockingly high

A mother holds a baby in her arm.

Vulnerable infants are especially at risk. |

With potentially unsafe hospital conditions, it’s no wonder the infant mortality rate in North Korea is through the roof. Per 1,000 live births, 27 of them will die, according to data from NationMaster. This number is seven times higher than South Korea’s. Even for babies born alive, they’re also at high risk for malnutrition because of North Korea’s scarce resources.

Business Insider also says the maternity hospital in Pyongyang, which boasts some new equipment and impressive technology, is reportedly frigid inside. Reporters said both patients and doctors wore gloves, coats, and scarves just to keep warm.

Next: Nasty medical conditions run rampant.

Infections causing pneumonia and diarrhea run rampant

North Korea students in white and red ties lining up to sign petitions.

There isn’t enough medical care for youths in North Korea. | STR/AFP/Getty Images

The discovery of parasites living within the North Korean defector shed some light on what other health problems citizens of the country may be facing. The Journal of Preventative Medicine and Public Health says infections that cause diarrhea and pneumonia are killing children at an alarming rate. Some reports even say over a third of school-age children in North Korea have diseases caused by the presence of parasites in their intestines.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, sexually-transmitted infections and hepatitis B are also huge problems for the country.

Next: These two diseases have already ravaged North Korea.

Diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, have ravaged the country

North Korea military marching at the capital.

Citizens aren’t protected against common illnesses and diseases.  | Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

You don’t consider malaria or tuberculosis as much of a threat to your own health — but in North Korea, they’re both still major concerns. These diseases pose a huge threat to the country’s people, though mortality rates from both are steadily decreasing. Here’s what’s odd, though — while less people are dying of TB, the number of people catching the disease remains the same. And as for malaria, things are looking up, as incidences are decreasing countrywide.

Though North Korea is starting to get TB and malaria outbreaks under control, they’re not totally in the clear. The combination of communicable disease coupled with malnutrition and the rise of chronic disease is what’s really killing people.

Next: Does North Korea have a cannibalism problem?

Food is so scarce that there are fears over cannibalism

A sea of North Korean army members in gray hats.

Some people are resorting to extremes due to hunger. | Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

The Independent reports famine is so severe in certain parts of North Korea that there were rumors of cannibalism. One particularly unnerving report said a man living in a poor farming province dug up his grandchild’s corpse to eat it. And another informant in the province of South Hwanghae said a man who tried to eat his children was executed by firing squad.

History explains North Korea has dealt with famine since the mid-1990s. And today, around 41% of the population is undernourished.

Next: This is the largest cause of death countrywide.

And cardiovascular disease is the largest cause of death countrywide

A doctor raises a stethoscope.

Without access to regular checkups and medications, many will develop heart disease. | Ufokim/iStock/Getty Images

Oddly enough, the U.S. and North Korea actually have something in common — and that’s the looming threat of cardiovascular disease. Heart issues stand as the largest cause of death in North Korea. And WHO’s Global Burden of Disease Study in 2004 found heart disease in the country was three times higher than it was in South Korea.

So, why the high risk? An unhealthy diet, heavy tobacco usage, high blood pressure, and air pollution are all among the top reasons. And given Kim Jong Un’s love of cheese and wine, he’s at serious risk of developing heart disease as well.

Additional reporting by Lauren Weiler and John Wolfe.

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