North Korean Leader Suffered Stroke?

By Jennifer Parker

Sep 9, 2008 11:24am

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports: US intelligence believes North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong II may be seriously ill.

"There are good reasons to believe that Kim Jong Il has suffered a health setback. It could even be a stroke," a senior US official told ABC News.

"There is reason to believe it was serious," the official adds. What are those reasons? US officials won’t say. But for several days there have been reports — both in the South Korean press and in secret US intelligence channels — that suggest the North Korean leader is ill.

Adding weight to those reports, today Kim failed to appear at the parade marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of North Korea. In previous anniversaries of North Korea’s founding, Kim attended elaborate parades in which lines of soldiers saluted him, and rocket launchers and armored vehicles rumbled through Pyongyang.

"This is a major parade, something that he has been at virtually every year since he was born," a U.S. defense official tells ABC News Kim, who holds absolute power over North Korea, has not been seen in public for a month.

However US officials caution that as with everything about North Korea notoriously secretive government, the information about Kim’s health is spotty.

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