Sat, Feb 07, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Stroke can’t keep Kim from drinking

AFP , SEOUL

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il drank heavily at a recent lunch with a visiting Chinese envoy despite his reported stroke last summer, a report said yesterday.

Kim drank a great deal of potent liquor during a lunch lasting more than two hours with Wang Jiarui (王家瑞) on Jan. 23, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper said, citing a diplomatic source in Beijing.

It was Kim’s first known meeting with a foreign visitor since last August, when US and South Korean officials said he suffered a stroke.

“I understand that North Korean spirits were served on the occasion, and Kim proposed a number of toasts and drank many small cups of liquor,” the source said.

Diplomats in Beijing speculate Kim might have drunk hard to demonstrate his health, the daily said. He is known to have a taste for cognac and other imported luxuries.

Kim, who turns 67 this month, has not nominated a successor. State media has reported him undertaking a variety of inspection tours in recent months, in an apparent attempt to stress he is recovered and in charge.

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