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N. Korean Official: 'No Problem at All' with Kim's Health

  • VOA News

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) guides the actual parachuting and striking drill of paratrooper units of the KPA in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) Aug. 28, 2014.

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) guides the actual parachuting and striking drill of paratrooper units of the KPA in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) Aug. 28, 2014.

A top North Korean official has told South Korea's unification minister there is nothing wrong with Kim Jong Un's health.

Unification Minister Ryoo Kihi-jae said Sunday he asked Kim Yang Gon, secretary of North Korea's ruling Workers Party, about rumors of the young leaders' ill health, but Secretary Kim insisted there is "no problem at all."

The North Korean leader had been seen in video walking with a pronounced limp, and has not been seen in public for more than a month, an absence that loomed large over the surprise visit to South Korea by a trio of the leader's top aides.

The North Korean delegation met with South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Saturday in Incheon where they agreed to resume high level talks that have been stalled for several months. The talks are set to begin sometime between late October and early November.

The new agreement to hold the talks follows the rare and sudden visit to South Korea Saturday by the three senior North Korean officials.

''Today those in special positions came here as the delegation (from the North). We must work together so South and North Korea relations improve,'' said Kim Kwan-jin, South Korean National Security Director.

The North Korean delegation was led by Hwang Pyong So, the country's number two behind leader Kim Jong Un. Hwang is the top political officer of North Korea's 1.2-million-member army.

The other two North Korean dignitaries are secretaries of the ruling Workers' Party, Choe Ryong Hae and Kim.

''I also made this trip with the hope that this occasion will be a turning point for North and South Korea relations," said Kim Yang Gon, Secretary of North Korea's ruling Workers Party. "I am glad to sit here and share this warm meal with you.''

The surprise visit was ostensibly made to attend the Asian Games closing ceremony Saturday.

The visit has many in the region wondering if the new talks could lead to a breakthrough in decades of tensions between North and South Korea, which remain technically at war because their 1950-'53 conflict ended in a truce and without a peace treaty.

The trip comes amid Pyongyang's repeated invectives at South Korea and its president, Park Geun-hye, over her calls for the North to end its arms program and improve human rights conditions.

Armed clashes in recent years have killed soldiers on both sides, and in 2010, civilians in the South were killed when the North bombed an island.

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