Guinness World Records Crowns New World's Shortest Man

Junrey Balawing, standing at 23.6 inches, is the world's shortest man. (Image credit: Guinness World Records)

The world has a new shortest man: Junrey Balawing, who, according to Guinness World Records, stands just 23.6 inches tall.

Junrey lives with his parents and three younger siblings in in Sindangan, a coastal village in the southern Philippines. He became eligible for the record on his 18th birthday, which coincides with Philippines Independence Day, meaning a double celebration in his village. Junrey, who weighs just 11 pounds (5 kg), celebrated his birthday and crowning with his favorite meal: Pork, rice and a large helping of cola.

To confirm Junrey's record, Guinness World Records editor-in-chief Craig Glenday helped measure Junrey three times over a 24-hour period, both standing and lying flat. Junrey's final height was determined by taking the average, which accounts for any variations throughout the day. (You tend to wake up taller than you were when you went to bed the shock-absorbing intervertebral discs between the vertebrae compress vertically as your spine takes the weight of your body throughout the waking day.)

Being the world's shortest man isn't easy. Junrey has to stay at home with his mother, Concepcion, while his sisters Jaycel, 13, and Jeanritch, six, and 11-year-old brother Jay-art go to school. Concepcion, 35, says: "He needs my care every minute of every day. Junrey can only walk with some help and he can't stand for too long because he's in too much pain."

It also makes it hard to date. When asked if he had a girlfriend, Junrey replied, in his squeaky high-pitched voice: "You fool! Don't even ask!"

At birth, Junrey was the size of a 1-liter coke bottle. His mother only started to suspect something was not right when Junrey was four years old as his friends began to outgrow him.

Doctors have so far been unable to help Junrey, says his father, as no one knows the specific cause of his condition. Junrey has been given medication to strengthen his bones, but these made no difference.

Unfortunately, the family is not in the position to fund any of the medical investigations that might provide answers. However, clothes, shoes, specially designed bicycles, medical supplies and even life-saving surgery are among the many gifts that generous fans have donated in recent years to record holders affected by their stature, so it's possible that Junrey will benefit from a similar reaction.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries, then join us on Facebook.

Live Science Staff
For the science geek in everyone, Live Science offers a fascinating window into the natural and technological world, delivering comprehensive and compelling news and analysis on everything from dinosaur discoveries, archaeological finds and amazing animals to health, innovation and wearable technology. We aim to empower and inspire our readers with the tools needed to understand the world and appreciate its everyday awe.