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Kim collapsed on Aug. 14
N. Korean Kim Having Trouble Using Limbs
Kim Jong-Il
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has difficulty using his arms and legs after suffering a stroke and undergoing surgery performed by Chinese doctors last month, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported on Sept. 14.

The report contrasts with a comment by a South Korean official, who said last week that the 66-year-old North Korean leader has recovered enough to brush his teeth on his own.

Quoting unnamed Chinese sources, Kyodo said Kim collapsed on Aug. 14, and that Beijing dispatched five military doctors at the request of Pyongyang. North Korea's medical system is underdeveloped due to years of isolation and economic failings.

Kim will "require a long period of rest and rehabilitation" before he fully recovers and has complete command of his limbs again, as with typical stroke victims, Kyodo said, citing the sources. The report did not say whether the Chinese doctors have returned home.

Kim, who is reported to have diabetes and heart problems, has ruled the communist state with an iron fist since the mid-1990s, when his father and North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung, died.

The junior Kim has appeared at ceremonies celebrating the founding of his country since 1991, but he did not appear last week at the 60th anniversary event, fueling outside speculation over his health.

U.S. and South Korean officials told media that Kim is believed to have collapsed from a stroke or a cerebral hemorrhage, while North Korea has denied the reports, dismissing them as a "conspiracy plot."
On Sunday, North Korea's official media said Kim had sent a message congratulating Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on his birthday, while Japan's Mainichi Shimbun daily said Kim has occasionally lost consciousness since April.

The speculation over Kim's health comes as North Korea threatens to restart its nuclear reactor and retreat from a six-nation deal aimed at stripping the country of its atomic weapons programs.

The deal, struck with South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, promises to remove the North from the U.S. list of terrorism sponsors, but Pyongyang claims Washington has failed to honor its side of the pledge.

Kim, who benefited from the world's first dynastic communist succession, is believed to have three sons, but none has emerged as the clear pick to succeed him.




 

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