Kim Jong-il 'has life-threatening cancer'
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has life-threatening pancreatic cancer, South Korean broadcaster YTN said today, citing information gathered from Chinese and South Korean intelligence sources.
The report fueled speculation about Kim's health while raising questions about the future of Asia's only communist dynasty and who will make decisions about its nuclear programmes. It also comes after a gaunt Kim, who was suspected of suffering a stroke a year ago, made a rare public appearance last Wednesday at a memorial for his father and state founder Kim Il-sung. The stark figure he cast heightened speculation the 67-year-old leader was still ill.
Kim's health is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the reclusive state. There has never been official confirmation of him falling ill.
YTN said the diagnoses of the cancer came around the same time as the stroke.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service declined to confirm the reports and the Unification Ministry said it had no information to back up the report. US officials did not immediately have comment.
The news hurt sentiment on Seoul's main stock index, which posted its biggest loss in more than four months amid renewed US financial and earnings worries.
"Such news highlights South Korea's geopolitical uncertainty and risks and one thing that investors hate is any uncertainty," said Lee Kyoung-su, a market analyst at Taurus Investment & Securities.
North Korea has been raising tension in Asia through missile launches and a nuclear test on May 25 which was met by U.N. sanctions aimed at cutting off it arms trade, one of its few sources of hard cash.
South Korean officials said the military grandstanding was aimed at helping Kim build internal support as he prepares for succession, with his youngest son seen as the likely heir.
The US National Cancer Institute puts the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer at 5.5 percent. The pancreas makes insulin and other hormones which help the body use or store energy from food.
Pancreatic cancer occurs more often in people who have diabetes than in those who do not, it said. Kim has long been thought to suffer from diabetes.
Kim Jong-il took power in 1994 when his father died at the age of 82. He assumed the title of general secretary of the ruling Workers' Party and chairman of the National Defence Commission, but has never taken the title of president.
His youngest son Kim Jong-un, born in late 1983 or early 1984 and educated in Switzerland, is regarded as the most capable of the North Korean leader's three known sons.
If Jong-un were to take over soon, he is likely to remain weak, vulnerable and at the mercy of the North's old guard for years, experts have said.
North Korea places great emphasis on seniority and the ruling elite around Kim Jong-il, mostly men beyond 70, are not about to take orders from the son, one intelligence source has said.
An expert on the North said Kim Jong-il had been planning for succession and relying on his brother-in-law and senior party member, Jang Song-thaek, to play a pivotal role.
"Everything is in place, and things are moving along at a quick pace and it will be done in a short period of time," said Paik Hak-soon of the Sejong Institute near Seoul.
Separately, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei of China was holding talks in Seoul today to try to resume six-way talks his country hosts aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear arms programme in return for massive aid and diplomatic rewards.
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London ...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...