September 29, 2014 09:26
North Korea's state-run TV in a rare admission on Thursday showed footage of leader Kim Jong-un limping and admitted he is ill. It was the first time that the North's tightly-controlled media admitted a leader has health problems.
The report hailed "Our marshal, who lights the path of leadership for the people like a flame, although he was not feeling well" over footage of a limping Kim taken sometime in July.
A government official here said Friday, "We are closely monitoring Kim Jong-un's health," adding that a team of foreign doctors recently went to North Korea and are treating the leader.
A source said Kim is believed to be suffering from gout, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Speculation had been mounting after he disappeared from public view since attending a concert on Sept. 3.
A researcher with a state-run think tank here said the admission suggests that Kim's health is worse than expected but also that the regime feels secure enough to make his health problems public.
The South Korean government official said the doctors, from France, Germany and Russia, are treating Kim for gout, which may have been aggravated by heavy drinking and overeating.
Kim's grandfather, Kim Il-sung and his father Kim Jong-il are also believed to have suffered from gout, which is characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis.
Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader's half brother, told Japanese media in 2011 that he is taking daily medication for gout.
North Korea watchers say Kim's fondness for cheese may have caused his health problems. The Independent reported Friday that Kim has grown obese due to his love of Emmental cheese. He probably developed his taste for the distinctive holey cheese in Switzerland, where he went to international school.
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