Kim Jong-il was alive signing official documents until the night of Friday, Dec. 16, North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun daily claimed Sunday. "At the late hour of 9:13 p.m., one worker received a document signed by the general." The daily added Kim foresaw problems in the distribution of herring and pollack to Pyongyang residents to celebrate the New Year and signed the document to ease obstacles.
It is unusual for the official media to go into such detail, suggesting that the paper was indirectly trying to counter suspicions in South Korea and Japan that the official story of Kim's death on a moving train on Saturday, Dec. 17 did not add up.
One expert on North Korea said, "The North seems to be trying to beef up the story that Kim was working for the people until the last moment."
North Korea has not directly denied reports abroad that cast doubt on the official story. South Korea's National Intelligence Service and military say the train that was supposedly taking Kim to one of his on-the-spot guidance tours when he died never left Yongsong Station in Pyongyang between Dec. 16 and 18.
Some North Korean defectors say Kim died at home at around 8 p.m. on the Friday, while Japan's TV Asahi reported he was found dead at his summer villa near Pyongyang at around 1 a.m. on the Saturday morning.
The Rodong Sinmun said new leader Kim Jong-un handed down a document with the same fish-related instructions as the one bearing his father's final signature on Dec. 18, a day after Kim senior's death, and with that single gesture "revealed his intention to rule the country based on his father's wishes." It urged all North Koreans to follow them as well.