Kim Jong-il 'Showing Signs of Dementia'

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who suffered a massive stroke in 2008, has been displaying signs of memory loss and occasionally talks nonsense, National Intelligence Service chief Won Sei-hoon apparently told the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee in a closed-door meeting. "Kim has been exhibiting memory loss and saying things that do not make sense during his field visits," Won was quoted by lawmakers as saying.

According to the NIS, Kim said during a recent field inspection at a potato farm, "People should not live on potatoes alone. They need to have rice, too. We should send them rice." The NIS attributes Kim's odd comments to the aftereffects of his stroke. South Korean intelligence officials said North Korean officials are worried about Kim's deteriorating condition.

NIS officials apparently showed lawmakers photos of Kim's swollen left hand, which has been paralyzed since the stroke. The North Korean leader is undergoing therapy and has asked foreign specialists to the country.

Meanwhile, when asked by Democratic Party lawmaker Park Jie-won whether North Korea is capable of developing nuclear warheads within two years, military intelligence said they believe this will be possible soon. This means North Korea will be able to mount nuclear weapons on top of its wide range of missiles. The Korea Institute for Defense Analyses and the Agency for Defense Development have warned the North could develop nuclear warheads.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 28, 2010 11:56 KST