October 5, 2008

Seoul Skeptical of Kim Jong Il Appearance

South Korean officials say they are skeptical that ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il actually made a public appearance as reported by Pyongyang.

"We cannot trust North Korean media reports 100 percent, but they could be true," an unnamed South Korean intelligence official told the Yonhap news agency Sunday. "We have been monitoring reports since the announcement, but cannot confirm it."

The official North Korean news agency reported Saturday that Kim watched a college soccer game but didn't specifying the location. If it is true, it would the reclusive leader's first public appearance in 51 days, an absence that has sparked speculation he suffered a stroke.

"It might be true or false," the South Korean official told Yonhap. "Recently there have been many speculations on Kim's health. The (North Korean) report might be intended to demonstrate that Kim is in good health, or wage a kind of psychological warfare against South Korea."