Wednesday, Oct 22, 2008
Kim Jong-il is still in control of North Korea despite rumours about his health, according to the president of neighbouring South Korea.
Lee Myung-bak made the comments in a newspaper interview following reports that Kim had suffered a stroke and had brain surgery in August.
“There has been a lot of speculation with no clear indication about Kim Jong-il’s whereabouts, but I do not believe there are any changes in North Korea because of Kim’s health,” the South Korean president said in an interview with Le Figaro.
“I think North Korea is still being run as usual with Chairman Kim Jong-il at the centre.”
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Speculation about Kim’s health has persisted since he missed two important national ceremonies, including the 60th anniversary of the founding of North Korea last month.
Officials deny he is ill and state media recently released pictures of him inspecting a women’s military unit.
But experts in South Korea say the images were probably taken several months ago, before he is thought to have fallen ill.
Kim’s health and his whereabouts are among the most closely guarded secrets in North Korea.
He has not publicly nominated a successor, leading to fears that the state could fall apart after his death.
This article was posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 4:30 am