Monday, Oct 20, 2008
South Korea’s ministry responsible for ties with the North said on Monday no unusual activity was observed in North Korea on the day media said Pyongyang may make an important announcement.
A source based in Beijing with access to North Korean officials rejected speculation about the health of leader Kim Jong-il, thought to have suffered a stroke in August, saying he was firmly in control of the reclusive state.
Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said on Saturday North Korean diplomats had been told to stay close to their missions and await an important message, which could be about Kim’s health or ties with the South.
“We have nothing to confirm regarding chairman Kim Jong-il’s health,” Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon told a news briefing.
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“All of the North’s domestic broadcasts, its international events and domestic events are being conducted normally.”
South Korean media on Monday quoted informed sources as saying the reports from Japan could be inaccurate. Yomiuri is a conservative but prominent daily with relatively well-placed sources on North Korea.
A source based in Beijing with close ties to the North’s government termed reports that Kim may have died “nonsense.”
“All along his health has not been very good. But there’s definitely no problem,” the source, requesting anonymity, told Reuters.