Frail-looking Kim Jong Il starts new term

Kim Jong Il, the North Korean dictator, started another term in office today, after winning the country’s election last month with 100 percent of votes. It marked one of the few public appearances the Dear Leader’s made since suffering a stroke. He appeared significantly thinner, his hair sparse on his head, moving arthritically. (Just months ...

586923_090409_Kim_Jong_Il5.jpg
586923_090409_Kim_Jong_Il5.jpg

Kim Jong Il, the North Korean dictator, started another term in office today, after winning the country's election last month with 100 percent of votes.

It marked one of the few public appearances the Dear Leader's made since suffering a stroke. He appeared significantly thinner, his hair sparse on his head, moving arthritically. (Just months ago, the North Korean news agency released photos of him looking robust to counter rumors about his health.)

Reports note that Kim is likely preparing to pick which of his three sons will succeed him -- a transition which has the potential to end the communist state's isolationist foreign policy. The youngest son, Jong-un, around 25 years old, seems the likeliest candidate.

Kim Jong Il, the North Korean dictator, started another term in office today, after winning the country’s election last month with 100 percent of votes.

It marked one of the few public appearances the Dear Leader’s made since suffering a stroke. He appeared significantly thinner, his hair sparse on his head, moving arthritically. (Just months ago, the North Korean news agency released photos of him looking robust to counter rumors about his health.)

Reports note that Kim is likely preparing to pick which of his three sons will succeed him — a transition which has the potential to end the communist state’s isolationist foreign policy. The youngest son, Jong-un, around 25 years old, seems the likeliest candidate.

The middle son suffers from unnamed but allegedly debilitating diseases; the eldest became infamous when he attempted to sneak into Japan to visit Tokyo Disneyland with a fake passport. The New York Times writes:

In recent months, [the oldest son] has been in the news after speaking to Japanese reporters who spotted him at the Beijing airport and in Macao. When Japanese reporters spotted him on Tuesday in Macao, he was quoted as saying that he was “much worried about” regional tensions after the rocket launching last weekend.

“If I was a designated successor, I wouldn’t be here in Macao talking to you now,” he was quoted as saying when asked about his chances of succeeding his father.

 Photo: DPRK/KRT 

Annie Lowrey is assistant editor at FP.

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