Monday, Oct 27, 2008
The eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il traveled to Paris to recruit a top brain surgeon and bring him home to treat his father, Japanese TV channel Fuji reported on Monday.
Japanese media have been awash with reports on the reclusive communist leader’s state of health in recent weeks, and have sparked angry denials from Pyongyang’s state media.
The channel showed footage of a man in a suit identified as the leader’s son Kim Jong-nam leaving a hospital in Paris and getting into a car. He did not answer reporters’ questions.
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The channel then showed the unnamed French doctor, his face concealed, at Charles de Gaulle airport. The channel said the surgeon was on a flight to Beijing, the usual stop-off point for flights to North Korea, and that he did not deny he was travelling to the communist state.
Kim Jong-nam, 37, is seen as a likely successor to his father, continuing the dynasty that began with his grandfather Kim Il-sung in 1949. Kim Jong-il took over when the “Great Leader” died in 1994.
Last Thursday, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency issued a furious statement denying reports in two Japanese newspapers that it was about to release an “important announcement” that could relate to Kim Jong-il’s health.
The reports had fueled speculation that Kim, 66, was in a critical condition.
South Korea’s government has said it has no information backing up the Japanese media reports.
On top of the frequent rumors emanating from Japan, North Korea’s relations with the country have been strained by Tokyo’s unwillingness to fulfill its obligations under the six-party negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.
Japan has refused to provide its share of the 1 million tons of fuel aid pledged to the reclusive communist state, demanding that Pyongyang first disclose all information on Japanese nationals abducted by the North during the 1970s and 1980s.
This article was posted: Monday, October 27, 2008 at 4:51 am