French Doctor Recalls Treating Kim Jong-il

      December 21, 2011 13:16

      Francois-Xavier Roux

      A French doctor who treated North Korean leader Kim Jong-il after his stroke in 2008 said Kim's son and heir Jong-un had "deep respect for his father."

      Neurosurgeon Francois-Xavier Roux told the Chosun Ilbo at Sainte Anne Hospital in Paris on Tuesday, "Kim Jong-un gave a very stern impression because he was always wearing the same uniform."

      Before Kim's stroke in 2008, his eldest son Jong-nam also came to see Roux at the hospital. Roux did not know who he was until he saw his picture later. "When he came to the hospital, Kim Jong-nam discussed his personal problem, not his father's." Roux declined to reveal what those were.

      It has been reported that Kim Jong-nam was in Pyongyang when his father had his stroke, but Roux said, "I didn't meet Kim Jong-nam in Pyongyang. I never saw the whole Kim family gathered in one place."

      North Korean diplomats first contacted Roux in 1993, when Kim Jong-il sustained a small head wound when he fell from a horse. The Sainte Anne Hospital is just 1.5 km from the North Korean mission in Paris. It was set up by Napoleon III in 1867 to treat mental diseases, and is famous across Europe in the field.

      When Roux went to North Korea at the request of North Korean diplomats in 2008, Kim was unconscious and in critical condition. "I didn't know why I was going to Pyongyang until I was on my way. I just had a vague feeling that it must be someone high up," Roux said. After he arrived at Pyongyang Red Cross Hospital, Roux was handed only the medical records of a patient, and was not allowed to see the patient, but insisted on seeing him in person because they worried him.

      After many hours of discussion amongst North Korean doctors, Roux was able to see Kim. "He was unconscious and his life hung by a thread. My job was to bring him back to life with another doctor. It was the worst situation," Roux recalled.

      Citing patient confidentiality, Roux declined to say what he did for Kim. But by the time he was on his way back to Paris after 10 days in Pyongyang, Kim was able to speak. Roux went back to Pyongyang in September and October that year to check Kim's condition. "In my last visit in October 2008, he was nearly fully recovered from the stroke. But I wasn't able to predict his health because stroke has high risk of reoccurrence."

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