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`N. Korean Leader Suffered Stroke Last Month`

Posted September. 11, 2008 09:05,   


North Korean leader Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke around Aug. 15 and was operated on by foreign doctors, a high-ranking Seoul official said yesterday.

“Though he has difficulty talking, he is in good health,” the official said. “The stroke is believed to have been brought on by his vigorous diplomatic activities. But he is not in critical condition and there is no sign of an administrative vacuum or power struggle.”

Three medical staff from the Chinese People`s Liberation Army and a French neurosurgeon have been treating Kim in the North since mid-August.

South Korea was informed of Kim’s condition by the United States 20 days ago.

On the delay of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of North Korea’s founding from the morning to afternoon and the pared-down ceremony, the official said, “Kim planned to attend the ceremony in the afternoon had his condition allowed it, but medical staff discouraged him from attending an event that would`ve taken hours.”

A diplomatic source said, “Though North Korean leader Kim received surgery for a mild stroke, he isn’t gravely ill. He will appear in public soon.”

One Washington insider also said the reclusive leader developed an illness assumed to be a stroke in mid-August but is not in serious condition. Indications have arisen, however, of a serious power struggle in the North.

“Washington has kept a close watch on a series of developments in Pyongyang, including the North`s announcement to halt disabling its nuclear facilities, since Aug. 14 when Kim Jong Il made his last public appearance,” said the insider.

“But no compelling evidence says Pyongyang`s recent moves on nuclear activities was not conducted under Kim’s control.”

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told a briefing that Washington has no information to confirm rumors that the North Korean leader is seriously ill.

The North’s second-in-command, Kim Yong Nam, cited "no problem" with Kim Jong Il, according to Japan`s Kyodo News agency.

Senior North Korean diplomat Song Il Ho also told Japan`s Kyodo News, “The rumors of our leader’s ill-health are worthless. We consider them a conspiracy plot."

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak convened an emergency meeting of his senior secretaries on countermeasures to an emergency in North Korea.

The parliamentary intelligence committee also held a closed-door plenary session and asked National Intelligence Service Director Kim Sung-ho on the condition of North Korea’s leader.