September 11, 2008

North Korean UN Officials Refuse to Comment on Leader’s Health

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

NEW YORK, Sept. 11 (Yonhap) - North Korean diplomats here on Wednesday described as nonsense media speculation over their leader Kim Jong Il [Kim Cho'ng-il]'s health problems.

South Korean intelligence officials said Kim had suffered either a stroke or cerebral haemorrhage but is recovering.

Kim has not been seen in public since Aug. 14 when he reportedly inspected a military unit in North Korea. His absence from a crucial military parade Tuesday commemorating the country's 60th anniversary sparked further speculation about his health.

A North Korean official at the country's representative to the United Nations dismissed questions from a Yonhap News Agency correspondent seeking to confirm the intelligence report.

"Since we are busy doing our job, we don't have time to heed to such things," he said.

He hurriedly left the mission's office building, refusing to answer further questions.

Sin Son-ho, the North's ambassador to the mission, also refused to comment when leaving the building.

The North Korean office on the 13th floor appeared quiet, with all of its windows curtained off.

Phone calls to the mission were not answered. A North Korean official belatedly received a phone call late in the afternoon but immediately hung up when questioned about Kim's health problems.

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0512 11 Sep 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Newsfile. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.