June 19, 2009 09:14
The health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is rapidly deteriorating, prompting the hasty decision to name his third son Jong-un as heir apparent, sources told the Chinese press. The Global News, a sister paper of the official People’s Daily, on Thursday quoted a foreign ambassador in Pyongyang as saying that Kim Jong-il's fragile health made the situation in North Korea "very complicated."
The envoy told the Global News that authorities in Pyongyang are keeping tight lid on information about Kim's health.
A North Korean source in Beijing said Beijing-based North Korean officials from Ponghwa Hospital, which is treating Kim's illness, are looking to import expensive medical equipment, which has become contraband since the North conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. Pyongyang is also seeking to import an emergency helicopter from overseas. "Kim seems to be in serious condition," the source added.
North Korea's nuclear test and imminent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile is an attempt to reduce the power vacuum and hand over a stable regime to Kim Jong-un, the source speculated.
Since early this year, Kim Jong-il has tripled the frequency of so-called "on-the-spot guidance" to local areas and military units across the country out of impatience to hand over power to his son before it is too late, the source added.
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