Report: NKorean leader Kim's health worsens

AP News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2009 1:58 AM

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is suffering from chronic laryngitis _ probably because of excessive smoking and drinking _ and he can't work without resting every other day, a news report said Wednesday.

The disease worsened last month, though the 67-year-old leader has recovered much from last year's reported stroke and a kidney disease, said the Seoul-based Open Radio for North Korea, a radio station specializing in North Korean news.

The station cited an unidentified "high-level source" in the North saying that Kim can't work without resting every other day because of the illness.

It said Kim's "excessive smoking and drinking" is believed to be the main reason for the worsened laryngitis.

South Korean officials could not confirm the report.

Kim's health is a focus of intense media attention because he rules absolutely and there could be a power struggle in the North if he were to die without naming a successor.

Once a reputed gourmand who enjoyed his cigars and fine wines, Kim was said to have dumped his former chain-smoking ways years ago. It's not clear whether Kim is smoking regularly again.