North Korean revolutionary leader Kim Il-sung would take blood transfusions from men and women in their 20s and spend hours watching children playing in a bid to live to 100, his former doctor said.
The efforts by the Democratic People’s Republic’s ‘Eternal President’ were in vain, he died in 1994 at the age of 84, two years after his personal physician defected to South Korea.
They have been revealed amid rumours his grandson, Kim Jong-un, the current North Korean leader, had gone for a gastric band operation in China to counter an addiction to Emmental cheese.
Kim So-yeon, Kim Il-sung’s doctor, told CNN the health issues apparently affecting the younger Kim could be similar to those suffered by his grandfather.
Both the Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il, the current Kim’s father, suffered diabetes, heart problems and stress, said Dr Kim, conditions she believes may have been passed on.
She also speculated that Kim has been receiving hormone shots to make him look more like his grandfather, who is a revered figure in North Korea.
Before she defected, Dr Kim spent ten years in charge of research at a ‘Longevity Centre’, where scientists researched and experimented with new methods to keep Kim Il Sung young.
In his later years, she said, he favoured blood transfusions from citizens in their 20s, believing the young blood would help his body to last longer.
After the centre decided happiness brings good health, Kim also took to watching children do funny or cute things that would make him laugh.
‘He wanted to rule as long as he could. I think he wanted to live a long life for his own satisfaction,’ said Dr Kim.
Her revelations come shortly after Kim Jong Un made his second public appearance in a week following a period of over a month during which a lack of sightings had prompted speculation about his health and grip on power.
The newly released photos show the rotund leader and wife Ri Sol-Ju meeting with gold medalists from the recent Asian Games and their coaches in Pyongyang.
Kim, 31, was wearing his signature dark buttoned suit, although there was no sign of his black walking stick although in one photo it looked as if several of the athletes were having to help him stand up straight.
The undated photos were released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on Sunday, but haven’t been independently verified.
The 17th Asian Games was held in Incheon, South Korea, from September 19 to October 4. North Korea finished seventh in the medals table, winning 36 in total and 11 gold.
After five weeks without being seen in public, Kim appeared on the front page of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper last Tuesday smiling and gesturing on a visit to a housing development, although there was no indication which day the event had taken place.
Kim was surrounded by aides and supported himself with a black walking stick. Prior to that he hadn’t appeared in public since he and his wife had attended a concert on September 3.