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`N. Korean Leader Has Led Since End of August`

Posted September. 12, 2008 03:59,   


The government has kept a close watch on the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il for several years after learning he suffers from hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and renal disorder.

“Our intelligence earlier confirmed that Kim Jong Il has hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and renal disorder and reported this to then President Roh Moo-hyun,” said a former high-ranking official. “But this is the first time for Seoul to confirm that Kim underwent surgery.”

A source well informed on North Korean issues said, “Kim Jong II showed symptoms of a stroke around the time of the second inter-Korean summit last year and in June talks with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.” “But I heard he has conducted state affairs since the end of August.”

South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee told the parliamentary defense committee yesterday that he feels no need to raise DefCon (defense readiness condition) 4 status to DefCon 3.

He said a higher state of alert will unnecessarily trigger public fears and irritate North Korea.

In a closed-door parliamentary session, Lee showed a couple of satellite photos of Bonghwa Clinic in Pyongyang, which is dedicated to the North’s high-ranking officials including Kim.

“Since mid-August when a host of luxurious cars appeared at the clinic, we have closely observed the clinic to prepare for any contingencies,” Lee said.

A diplomatic source in Washington said, “We shouldn’t rule out the possibility that this is a vicious tactic to make his presence felt and draw global attention by disappearing from public view for a long period of time amid the deadlocked nuclear talks.”

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