12/22/2008, 00.00
KOREA
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Kim Jong-il recovers and in control of the nation

US and South Korean intelligence confirms reports. The “Dear Leader” has paid visits to industrial and military bases in Jakang province. North Korea asks South to re-launch trade, in exchange for prisoner release.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Over the past five days the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has paid visits to factories and military bases in the north west of the nation, confirming reports of his return to health.  Since last December 16th the state run Korean Central News Agency (Kcna) has made daily reports of the “Dear Leaders” public appearances, with statements and photos.

The state agency failed to clarify when these visits took place; a consolidated practise for the North’s dictatorship, which in the past also published photos of the dictator without providing exact details as to his appearances, such as the date and time of the event.

US and South Korean intelligence sources, however, believe the reports to be well founded and confirm that the North Korean dictator has recovered from a stroke suffered August last. Air reconnaissance spotted the “Dear Leader’s” train, after months of disuse, in the areas he is reported to have visited.  In the photos published by North Korean media (see photo) Kim observes a group of net surfers as they read the on-line edition of the state paper; in the second – in which however there is no trace of the dictator – the date reads December 16th.

Anonymous sources also refer that the North has comes forward with a proposal to resume trade with the South in exchange for the partial restitution of South Korean prisoners.  The expulsion of workers from the South from the inter-Korean industrial complex Kaesong, the launch of anti regime balloons by activists and the controversial North Korean nuclear program had undermined diplomatic relations and plans for economic cooperation between the two Koreas.

If the proposal put forward by Pyongyang is confirmed, it could breathe new life into inter-Korean relations.

 

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