August 13, 2006

N.Korea’s Kim appears for first time since missiles

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has made
his first public appearance since his country defied
international warnings by test-firing seven missiles on July 5,
with a visit to a farm that breeds rabbits and goats.

The last time North Korean official media mentioned an
appearance by Kim was on July 4, leading to speculation as to
why the North's leader had dropped out of view following the
missile launches.

"He (Kim) went round various places of the farm including
rabbit hutches and food-preparing rooms built in a peculiar
style to acquaint himself in detail with breeding and
production," the North's official KCNA news agency reported
late on Sunday.

It is not unusual for Kim to disappear from the public eye
for several weeks. At other times there are daily reports in
the country's official media about his visits to army units,
factories and farms and several weeks.

Analysts had various theories for Kim's recent absence,
including concerns about his safety, not wanting to draw
attention to himself while the country was battling major
flooding and possibly a honeymoon after taking his secretary as
his fourth wife.

The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution condemning
the missile launch and regional powers have called on North
Korea to return to stalled talks on its nuclear weapons