North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is still nowhere to be seen, more than
a week after South Korean intelligence officials revealed the belief he
is recovering from a stroke. As VOA's Kurt Achin reports from Seoul,
South Korean officials are trying to cool down a sizzling media demand
for rumors and speculation about the North Korean leader's condition.
Korea's main Cabinet minister in charge of North Korean affairs warned
lawmakers Thursday to keep matters related to the health of the North's
leader, Kim Jong Il, discrete.
Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong says spreading reports could lead to confrontation.
says it is inappropriate to pass on reports, even credible ones, that
have not been officially confirmed by North Korea. He says Pyongyang
could eventually view such behavior as slanderous and antagonistic.
Jong Il has not been seen in public since last month, and was most
notably absent from a military parade this month marking the country's
60th anniversary. South Korean intelligence officials told lawmakers
last week they believe the North Korean leader is recovering from a
North Korea has officially denied all reports of their
leader's ailing health, calling them a worthless international
conspiracy. South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo told Cabinet
ministers this week to avoid provoking Korea by discussing
intelligence. He reminded them that nobody knows how the situation
with the North Korean leader will progress at this point.
Korean media reports have included details from unnamed sources ranging
from alleged convulsions being suffered by the North's leader, to
speculation about whether or not he is able to brush his teeth by
For South Koreans, Kim Jong Il's health is no matter of
petty gossip, but a national security issue of the first order. He has
absolute personal control of North Korea's secretive government, and he
has never publicly named a successor. Any compromise of his health is
viewed as potentially destabilizing to the North Korean system - and
even to peace on the Korean peninsula.
Unification Minister Kim
called reports of a possible post Kim Jong Il collapse of North Korea
unhelpful Thursday, and warned they could further aggravate the already
sensitive North-South relationship.