Kim’s poor health sets back meet, says source

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Kim’s poor health sets back meet, says source

A deterioration in the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has delayed a long-awaited Workers’ Party meeting in Pyongyang, a South Korean government official told the JoongAng Daily yesterday.

But Kim is not ill enough for the meeting to be canceled altogether and it will be convened soon, said the official, who asked not to be identified. The communist leader’s health worsened after his unexpected visit to China last month, according to the source.

Kim was expected any day to preside over a meeting of the Workers’ Party, the first in 44 years. The meeting is widely expected to prepare for a power transfer from the 68-year-old Kim to his youngest son Kim Jong-un. The meeting will be the third of its kind, and North Korea observers say that previous meetings in 1956 and 1966 were important political turning points for the communist regime.

The National Intelligence Service also gave a report at a general session of the National Assembly yesterday on Kim Jong-il’s health and the delay of the Workers’ Party convention - the contents of which were undisclosed.

Radio Free Asia reported Saturday that the meeting had been delayed because of Kim’s health, citing sources in North Korea.

News of Kim, which is regularly reported through the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, was absent for over a week after his return from China at the end of August. Last Wednesday, the KCNA reported that Kim had viewed a performance and that on Sunday he had gone to visit a factory in Chagang, North Korea.

By Christine Kim []
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