North Korean leader said in poor health

PYONGYANG, North Korea, June 10 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong II is ill and may need heart surgery, it was reported Sunday.

Kim cannot walk more than 30 yards and is accompanied by an assistant carrying a chair so he can sit and catch his breath, the Sunday Telegraph reported.


A team of six doctors from the German Heart Institute in Berlin flew to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, for eight days last month. The German team later denied they examined Kim, the British newspaper said.

Kim, 65, has appeared in public 23 times this year, compared with 42 times at the same point last year. He has ruled North Korea since his father, the country's founder, Kim Il Sung, died in 1994.

Kim has been grooming two of his sons for a greater role in government.

Some observers predict, however, that Kim's rule might be followed by a collective military leadership, which could open the tightly controlled country to the rest of the world, the Telegraph reported.

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