11/03/2008, 00.00
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For Seoul photos show little about the state of Kim Jong-il’s health

“It is difficult to know Chairman Kim's health condition” from the photos. For now Pyongyang is involved in a vast campaign to nip in the bud any rumours about Kim’s health. It also blames the United States for the world’s financial crisis.
Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A spokesperson for the South Korean government said that the photos released yesterday by North Korean media show little about the state of Kim Jong-il’s health.

“It is difficult to know Chairman Kim's health condition merely with photos, still photos,” the South's Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun said at a briefing.

He declined further comment on Kim’s possible health status. The North Korean leader is widely believed to have suffered a stroke around mid-August, and has not been seen for more than 80 days.

Some South Korean analysts have said that North Korea is trying to stop the rumour mill surrounding the Communist leader’s health.

Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea’s Central TV and a pro-government newspaper released two separate pictures of Kim Jong-il. The first photo (pictured) shows the ‘Dear Leader’ watching a football match between two army teams. The other shows Kim standing to give instructions to his deputies outside an unidentified building, with his right arm raised and his left arm by his side. No dates or location for the two events were disclosed, but in one of the pictures the foliage on trees around the stadium suggests autumn.

This did not allay doubts because none of the photos show both the Communist leader and the soccer match in the same frame. Doubts persist because in early lat month, North Korea's state media disclosed photos of Kim inspecting a military unit in a frontline area on 11 October. But Seoul officials said the foliage shown in those early photos suggested they may have been taken in the summer, before Kim reportedly fell ill.

In the meantime Pyongyang levelled new accusations against the United States Sunday for the ongoing global financial turmoil.

“Troubled by the deepening economic crisis in the new century, the United States started its war in Iraq and Afghanistan under the pretext of anti-terrorism,” the Rodong Sinmun, a newspaper run by the ruling Workers' Party, said. Instead, “the move has only sparked an unprecedented storm of financial crisis.”

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