North Korean state media report that Kim Jong-il made his first public appearance at a football match on Saturday after US and South Korean reports said he may have suffered from a stroke last month.
SEOUL, Oct 4 (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il,
thought to have suffered a stroke in August, made his first
appearance in about 50 days, the state's media said on Saturday.
Last month, U.S. and South Korean officials said Kim, 66,
may have suffered a stroke in August, raising questions about
leadership in Asia's only communist dynasty as Pyongyang backed
away from an international nuclear disarmament-for-aid deal.
North Korea's official media said Kim saw a soccer match
between two universities. The last report of a public appearance
by Kim was in mid-August when state media said he visited a
"After watching the match, leader Kim Jong-il congratulated
the players on their good results, saying that the revolutionary
and militant students in our country are good at art and
sporting activities," the North's KCNA news agency reported.
Kim's reappearance came as the secretive state finished
talks with a U.S. nuclear envoy who went to Pyongyang this week
trying to save a disarmament deal and prevent the North from
restarting its nuclear plant that makes bomb-grade plutonium.
Kim was conspicuously absent from a military parade on Sept.
9 to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of North Korea.
He appeared at ceremonies to mark the 50th and 55th
anniversaries of the state founded by his father Kim Il-sung.
Kim Jong-il, known as "Dear Leader", inherited control in
1994 on the death of his father. Kim Jong-il had been groomed
for years to take control. He has three known sons, but has not
made any apparent moves to name any of them as his successor.
Under Kim's rule, the North's economy shrank and the country
suffered a famine in the 1990s that killed about 1 million
people in the country of 23 million. The North also conducted
its first and only nuclear test in October 2006.
On Thursday, an official newspaper referred to Kim's health
for the first time since the reports of his stroke, saying he
had a tiring summer inspecting all parts of his country.
"While everyone else in the world is busy vacationing, we
saw a flow of news sent into the universe on Kim's endless
on-site inspections through a long and rough journey," it said.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)
Date created : 2008-10-04