New South Korean intelligence indicates that ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il suffered a serious setback in his recovery from a stroke and has been hospitalized, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
The report in the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper cited an unnamed government official in saying intelligence obtained Sunday suggested “a serious problem” with Kim’s health. The report did not elaborate, and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service and Unification Ministry said Wednesday they could not confirm it.
By JEAN H. LEE, Associated Press Writer
Kim, 66, reportedly suffered a stroke and underwent brain surgery in August. A Japanese TV station says his eldest son went to Paris to recruit a neurosurgeon who was flown back to Asia to treat Kim.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il returns a salute as he reviews a military parade in Pyongyang in this October 10, 2005 file photo, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the communist party.(Korea News Service/Files/Reuters)
The Dong-a report came a day after Japan’s prime minister told lawmakers in Tokyo that Kim probably is in the hospital, though “not unable” to make decisions as North Korea’s leader.
The chief of the National Intelligence Service had told lawmakers Tuesday that Kim was “not physically perfect” but still able to rule the country.
North Korea denies Kim is ill, However, speculation about the reclusive leader’s health grew when he missed a September military parade marking North Korea’s 60th anniversary. He then disappeared from public sight for two months.
Kim, who rules the Stalinist nation with absolute authority, has not publicly named any successors, leading to concerns about an uncertain future in the impoverished, nuclear-armed nation.