South Korean President Lee Myung-bak says North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is still running the isolated state, despite concerns raised in Seoul about the dictator's health.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Mr. Lee says he does not believe there have been any changes in North Korea because of Mr. Kim's health.  

South Korean intelligence sources have speculated Mr. Kim suffered a stroke in August, after he failed to appear in public for more than one month.  North Korea released still photographs of the communist leader last week, including one of him inspecting a military unit.

But experts have questioned whether the photos were recent.

The health of the 66-year-old Mr. Kim has led to concerns about a possible leadership void in the totalitarian state.  

Mr. Kim took control of North Korea in 1994 after the death of his father, Kim Il Sung.

North and South Korea are technically still at war, ever since the 1953 truce that brought an end to the three-year military conflict.  Relations have worsened since the conservative Mr. Lee took power earlier this year, promising to take a tougher stance on Pyongyang. 


Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.