Ailing Kim Jong-il 'Increasingly Reliant on Inner Circle'

      February 24, 2010 12:02

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-il apparently had age spots removed from his face to look healthy but is becoming more and more fretful and dependent on old friends or family, the National Intelligence Service said in a report at the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

      Kim is constantly accompanied by his sister Kyong-hui (64), the head of the Workers Party's light industry department, and her husband Jang Song-taek (64), the director of the party's administration department.

      "We believe that Kim is very worried about various issues given his public apology" for failing to fulfill his father's last wishes, NIS chief Won Sei-hoon said. "It seems likely that internal chaos will deepen."

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is seen on the left with blotches on his face in 2007, while his face looks clear in the 2010 photo on the right.

      Commenting on the succession, he said since the birthday of Kim Jong-un, Kim's third son and heir apparent on Jan. 8 , the regime has been holding "singalongs to pledge loyalty." "It seems that the regime has now moved from helping Kim junior establish a record of achievements to the next phase of assisting him in taking part in policy making processes," he added.

      A North Korean source said the same day the powerful National Defense Commission has involved Kim Jong-un in shaping important policies. "Just as his father was when he himself was heir apparent, Kim junior is also involved in recruiting senior officials," the source added.

      Won also touched on the aftermath of the North's disastrous currency reform, confirming that there were "serious effects" including a degree of unrest.

      When asked by lawmakers if the North Korean leadership is in control, he said, "We believe that they are still in control. There is zero possibility of a coup."

      He also commented on rumors that North Korea's recently established official investment agency, the Taepung International Investment Group, has managed to woo US$10 billion in foreign investment. "The rumors have turned out to be unfounded. It's improbable that the North could attract that kind of investment in the circumstances," he added.

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