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North Korea Reports Appearance by Kim Jong Il


For the first time in 58 days, North Korean media Saturday showed images of leader Kim Jong Il appearing in public.

A series of 10 still photographs were shown on state-run North Korean television purporting to show Mr. Kim meeting with members of an all female artillery unit. But North Korean media did not say when the inspection took place.

North Korean media also reported earlier this week Mr. Kim had attended a soccer (football) match but did not specify when or where.

Mr. Kim had not been seen in public since mid-August and was conspicuously missing from celebrations marking North Korea's 60th anniversary in September. His failure to appear in public had raised questions about his health and speculation that he had suffered a stroke.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) first reported the military inspection on Friday, but did not make any reference to Thursday's or Friday's celebrations for the founding of the ruling Worker's Party.

There were no reports of Mr. Kim's participation in those celebrations either, which some observers described as more muted than in previous years.

Pyongyang has dismissed comments from U.S. and South Korean officials who say that Mr. Kim is recovering from an apparent stroke.

The commander of U.S. troops in South Korea says the U.S. military has detected no sign of unusual North Korean military activity, but that the U.S. forces are prepared for any contingency.

Kim Jong Il took over from his father in 1994. It is not known if someone has been picked to succeed him.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.