By Jae-Soon Chang in Seoul
Sunday, 7 September 2008
Speculation was mounting last night over the health of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il. He has not been seen in public for more than three weeks, and, according to a source who has seen intelligence reports, five Chinese physicians entered North Korea about a week ago and are still there.
The 66-year-old leader was last seen on 14 August, when he inspected a military unit. State media carry reports every time Mr Kim attends a public event, but never comment on his health. An official with South Korea’s main spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, has said Mr Kim has chronic heart disease and diabetes but that his illnesses have not affected his public duties.
North Korea next week marks 60 years since its foundation. An annual military parade is usually staged on the anniversary. If Mr Kim doesn’t attend, this may indicate his health has worsened, South Korean officials believe.