Stroke Rumors Abound as Kim Jong Il Misses Parade

'Dear Leader' hasn't been seen in months
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2008 9:29 AM CDT
North Korean soldiers parade through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008.    (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
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(Newser) – Kim Jong Il was noticeably absent from North Korea’s massive 60th anniversary military parade today, fueling speculation that “Dear Leader” is seriously ill. Kim has not been seen in public for more than a month, and one US intelligence official told the AP the dictator may have had a stroke. Kim likely wouldn’t miss the parade voluntarily, as he presided over the 55th and 50th anniversary editions.

The recluse has disappeared for long periods before, but rumors of ill health have grown louder this time, with China reportedly sending an elite team of doctors to treat him. At the same time, North Korea has issued statements boasting of its military might, promising its army can “mercilessly crush invaders.” The parade is seen in South Korea as an attempt to show off that army. Second-in-command Kim Yong-nam took Kim’s place at the event.