- The North Korean leader mysteriously vanished from the public eye several times in 2021.
- NK News found the dates matched up with times Kim was judging designs for national projects.
- Experts have speculated that Kim, who appeared to have lost weight this year, was taking sick leave.
Kim Jong Un was presumed to be sick when he vanished from public life several times this year, but he was actually judging designs for wine bottles, cargo ships, and school uniforms, according to an analysis from NK News.
The North Korean leader vanished several times between January and May, prompting some experts who keep close tabs on Kim’s every move to speculate he might be unwell.
But according to NK News, Kim’s absences matched up with dates displayed at Thursday’s national industrial art exhibition in Pyongyang, which showed when Kim had been judging the designs.
Footage of the event, broadcast by the state-run KCTV news network, showed a large display board that listed 25 days this year when Kim was “guiding” some 110 designs to their completion, NK News said.
Most dates fell between February and May, NK News said, with a smattering more in August.
Kim has taken at least seven breaks lasting at least two weeks in 2021, according to NK News. He also disappeared from public view for long stretches in 2020.
In May, just before he reappeared, Kim was assessing designs for branding associated with the Wonsan-Kalma beach resort, NK News reported.
He also spent much of February judging designs for logos associated with a new tourist resort near the northern city of Samjiyon, the report said.
Images from the national industrial art exhibition showed that Kim also oversaw designs for various wine bottles, school uniforms, trolleybuses, double-decker buses, and a 12,000-ton cargo ship, according to NK News.
As Insider’s Ryan Pickrell has reported, Kim’s weight and health have long been considered risk factors for the North Korean regime and have fueled speculation over his successor if he died suddenly.