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U.S. Denies N. Korean Leader is Recovering

Posted September. 19, 2008 08:14,   


The United States is at odds with South Korea over the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

A Washington document given to Seoul last weekend conflicts with the South’s opinion of Kim’s health, U.S. and South Korean sources confirmed yesterday.

“The South Korean government said Kim is on his way to recovery. But as far as I know, the U.S. has not ruled out the possibility that he is in very serious condition both mentally and physically,” one source said.

In addition, the document reportedly said the collapse of the communist regime or an internal power struggle is unlikely.

Seoul has said that though Kim had surgery after suffering a stroke last month, he can manage state affairs as his condition has significantly improved. A South Korean official also said Kim can brush his teeth by himself.

Controversy is thus likely over which government’s analysis is more accurate and why Seoul and Washington disagree over Kim’s health, even after sharing intelligence.

The U.S. government has yet to accept South Korea’s claim that Kim is rapidly recovering, Fox News Channel of the United States said last week.

The document, however, might be disclosed in a U.S. congressional briefing as the House Committee on Foreign Affairs demanded that the State Department give a briefing on Kim’s health, according to the U.S.-based Radio Free Asia.

sechepa@donga.com jin0619@donga.com