North Koreans are reportedly heartbroken and worried over leader Kim Jong Un's apparent weight loss, according to local reports from Pyongyang.
Recent videos and photos which show Kim's noticeably slimmer face has raised speculation about his health, which has made locals concerned.
Kim, whose heavy frame has drawn global interest since he became the country's leader almost a decade ago, looked noticeably trimmer in images released by state media on Saturday, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
NK News, which analysed photos of Kim addressing a ruling party politburo meeting late last week – his first public appearance for a month – said he appeared to have lost a "significant amount of weight".
In a rare public comment, a resident of Pyongyang said their leader's new look has brought tears to North Koreans across the country.
"Seeing respected general secretary [Kim Jong Un] looking emaciated breaks our people's heart so much," the man said in an interview aired by state broadcaster KRT on Friday.
"Everyone is saying that their tears welled up."
Pyongyang residents were seen watching a big screen on the street showing a concert attended by Kim and party officials after a plenary meeting of their Workers' Party of Korea (WPK).
The broadcast did not detail what had led to his weight loss.
Mike Brodka, an intelligence officer for US Special Operations Command in South Korea, told NK News "On the surface, noticeable weight loss may not mean much, but it can provide clues to other information that intelligence collectors look for.
"It's important for intelligence to look at different sources of information and indicators of linked events to try and answer" what's going on behind Pyongyang's carefully managed propaganda, he said.
"It may be a simple matter of a healthy lifestyle change or a more complex issue," Brodka added. "Right now, we do not know, but it raises enough serious questions that we must pay attention to events over the next couple of months to find out."
Kim, a heavy smoker whose father, Kim Jong-il, died from a suspected heart attack in December 2011, has struggled with health conditions observers attribute to his weight and lifestyle.
South Korea's national intelligence service told MPs last year it believed Kim weighed 140kg and had gained an average of 6-7kg a year since coming to power in late 2011, NK News said.
Early last year, speculation about Kim's health exploded after he missed the birth anniversary celebrations of state founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, only to reappear in public in early May.