A stamp issued earlier this year in North Korea to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Kim Jong-Il’s coming to power. /Yonhap
Speculation about the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il intensified Tuesday after Kim failed to appear at celebrations for the Stalinist country’s 60th anniversary. AP wrote there was “reason to believe Kim Jong-il has suffered a serious health setback, possibly a stroke,” probably within the last two weeks.
North Korea has celebrated its anniversary on a large scale every five years, and Kim had never missed one yet.
A diplomatic source said, “Information from various channels says North Korea did not hold the military parade for the 60th anniversary ceremony this year.” But whether it is due to ailing health that Kim did not make a public appearance or because of the cancelled military parade is not known, the source added. Instead, there was a parade of reserve forces like Worker and Peasant Red Guards and the Young Red Guards.
A South Korean official said North Korea takes its 60th anniversary as seriously as the South does its own. “There are many strange indications that there is something seriously wrong with Kim,” he said.
A source who is well informed about Korean diplomacy said there was “news that Kim collapsed from a stroke, and that a French doctor went to North Korea on Aug. 22. We are looking into the matter to confirm the validity of the story.” Another source said there are reports that five Chinese doctors arrived in the North at the end of August. An official at the Korean Embassy in Beijing said Monday that the mission had intelligence reports that Kim collapsed on Aug. 22. Kim’s last public appearance was on Aug. 14, when the Korean Central News Agency reported that he visited the 1319 Army Base.
firstname.lastname@example.org / Sep. 10, 2008 08:44 KST