Mon, Oct 06, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Kim Jong-un’s health is fine, N Korea tells South

NOTHING TO SEE HERE:S Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said he was assured by a top Pyongyang official that nothing was wrong with the nation’s leader

AFP, SEOUL

There is nothing wrong with the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a senior North Korean official said during an extremely rare visit to South Korea, after rumors of a debilitating illness or even a coup in Pyongyang.

South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae, speaking on a TV talk show yesterday, quoted Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee Secretary Kim Yang-gon as saying: “There is nothing wrong with the health of Secretary Kim.”

Kim Yang-gon, who also heads a ruling party department in charge of South Korea-related affairs, visited the South’s western port of Incheon on Saturday to attend the closing ceremony of the Asian Games, along with two other high-ranking officials.

The delegation, led by Pyongyang’s second-most powerful man, North Korean National Defense Commission Vice Chairman Hwang Pyong-so, flew back to Pyongyang late on Saturday after a series of meetings with Ryoo and other South Korean officials.

The minister said Hwang had asked him to deliver a “heartfelt greeting” from Kim Jong-un to South Korean President Park Geun-hye, but there was no specific message from the leader.

The North’s leader has not been seen in public for a month, fueling rumors about his health and even triggering reports of a coup.

A rare admission from North Korea more than a week ago that Kim Jong-un was suffering “discomfort” triggered frenzied speculation and close scrutiny of any mention of the leader in state media.

Recent state TV footage of Kim had shown him looking overweight and walking with a pronounced limp, which some analysts took to be a symptom of chronic gout.

The rumors multiplied after he failed to attend a meeting of North Korea’s parliament last week.

Kim, believed to be 30 or 31, took over the reins of power in North Korea following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December 2011.

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