North Korean paper says Kim Jong-il had busy summer
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had an exceptionally busy time in the hot summer months of July and August, a North Korean weekly reported, as the outside world wondered if he was recovering from a stroke.
U.S. and South Korean officials said the reclusive Kim likely suffered a stroke in August but was still firmly in control of Asia's only communist dynasty, which has vexed the region through its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Reuters reported.
"It is not a memory of the sizzling heat. It is the remembrances of inspection tours leader Kim Jong-il had made to army units and industrial sectors in mid-summer," The Pyongyang Times, an English-language weekly, said in its latest edition released at the weekend.
The weekly, little known outside the reclusive country, did not provide any word on Kim's activities since August.
It said Kim had visited over 30 places during the 20 hottest days of the year and traveled about 4,000 km (2,500 miles) to see soldiers in military posts and workers in factories and farmers in the fields.
Earlier this month, North Korea's official media issued its first reports in about 50 days about Kim appearing in public, saying he watched a soccer match and inspected a women's military unit.
But experts in the South said pictures released of the military inspection were probably taken several months ago, before his suspected stroke.
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday that Kim was probably in hospital, while South's spy chief said North Korea's leader had recovered enough to perform his regular work.