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`N. Korean Leader Could Be Seeking Media Attention`

Posted October. 20, 2008 08:44,   


Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee has said, “We should not pay too much attention to (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Il’s health. He might enjoy the heightened attention.”

At a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates Friday in Washington after the Security Consultative Meeting between both countries, Lee made the comment when asked about Kim’s health and a contingency plan in case of a dire situation in the North.

“Excessive attention may spoil Kim,” Lee said. “It’s true that Kim’s health has a big influence on security on the Korean Peninsula. And South Korean and U.S. intelligence are closely following up on it.”

“Kim has long before stopped appearing in public, but we believe he still in control of his government.”

On criticism that the minister’s comments could anger Pyongyang, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said, “Lee’s comments were just an icebreaker. He meant no harm.”

On if he discussed advancing CONPLAN 5029, which is designed to cope with a dramatic change in the North, to an operational plan, Lee said, “South Korea and the United States will make necessary preparations against any threat to the security of the peninsula, and we will develop plans together as before.”