Kim Jong-Il Cheered at Concert

First major public appearance since stroke
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2008 5:41 AM CST
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il reportedly made his first public appearance before a mass audience since his suspected stroke when he attended a concert.   (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)
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(Newser) – A wildly cheering orchestra audience greeted North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il at his first major public appearance since his suspected stroke in August, reports Reuters. Western intelligence experts began speculating in September that Kim was seriously ill—or dying—when he failed to appear at an important military parade at that time. He has recently made a number of small-scale visits to factories and farms.

"When he appeared in the auditorium, the whole audience broke into the rousing cheers of 'hurrah!' and enthusiastically welcomed him," reported North Korea's KCNA news agency. He "waved back enthusiastically" and praised the performers, according to the report. Although the news agency did not say when the performance by the state orchestra was held, it appears clear the stroke has not weakened Kim's grip on power.