North Korea has released photographs showing leader Kim Jong Il smiling and watching a football match - the latest in their apparent attempts to defuse intense speculation over the health of the country's absolute ruler, the Associated Press reported.
Kim reportedly suffered a stroke and underwent brain surgery in August. North Korea has denied he is ill and has in recent weeks released news reports, photos and footage portraying the leader as active and able.
The South Korean Unification Ministry said the North's state TV showed Sunday undated still photos of what it said is Kim watching a football match between two army-affiliated teams and talking with people.
Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon said his ministry began analyzing the photos with outside experts.