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Sunday, Oct 5, 2014

Asia

N Korea says nothing wrong with leader Kim's health: S Korea

AFP | Sunday, Oct 5, 2014

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

SEOUL - There is nothing wrong with the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, a senior North Korean official said during an extremely rare visit to the South, after rumours of a debilitating illness or even a coup in Pyongyang.

South Korea's Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae, speaking on a television talk show Sunday, quoted Kim Yang-Gon as saying: "There is nothing wrong with the health of Secretary Kim".

Kim Yang-Gon, who heads a ruling party department in charge of South Korea-related affairs, visited the South's western port of Incheon Saturday to attend the closing ceremony of the Asian Games, along with two other high-ranking officials.

The delegation, led by Pyongyang's second most powerful man, Hwang Pyong-So, flew back to Pyongyang late Saturday after a series of meetings with Ryoo and other South Korean officials.

The minister said Hwang had asked him to deliver a "heartfelt greeting" from Kim Jong-Un to South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, but there was no specific message from the leader.

The North's leader has not been seen in public for a month, fuelling rumours about his health and even triggering reports of a coup.

A rare admission from North Korea nine days ago that he was suffering "discomfort" triggered frenzied speculation and close scrutiny of any mention of the young leader in state media.

Recent state TV footage of Kim had shown him looking overweight and walking with a pronounced limp, which some analysts took to be a symptom of chronic gout.

The rumours multiplied after he failed to attend a meeting of the North's rubber-stamp parliament last week.

Kim, believed to be 30 or 31, took over the reins of power in North Korea following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011.

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