Giant on the move
from Global News Journal:
Photo:A compilation by Reuters of pool photographs and images provided by North Korea's KCNA news agency showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-il from 2004 to 2009. The photograph in the lower right was released this week by KCNA
By Jon Herskovitz
The image the world once had of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, with a trademark paunch, platform shoes and a bouffant hair-do, is gone and may never come back. He has now become a gaunt figure with thinning hair who has trouble walking in normal shoes, let alone ones with heels 8-10 centimetres (3-4 inches) high like he used to wear.
A look at photographs the North’s official media has released of Kim over the past few months indicate he is not a healthy man. There has been an enormous amount of speculation about what is wrong with Kim, 67, including a report from South Korean TV network YTN this week that he has life-threatening pancreatic cancer.
Kim’s health is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the highly secretive North and his actual condition is likely known by a handful of people in his inner circle who risk death or prison camp for themselves and their families if they ever whisper a word about Kim’s problems.
There is a strong element of farce to covering the North Korea story, which should perhaps come as no surprise considering what an unusual, isolated place it is and how hard verifiable news is to come by.
One never knows quite what to believe, with all the strange stories that seep out about Kim Jong-il’s love of pizza, the rants of North Korea’s official KCNA news agency and numerous other bizarre tales, including these two.