Kim Jong-il Now 'Battling Pancreatic Cancer'

By Mat Probasco,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2009 1:22 AM CDT
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il offers a prayer during the 15th anniversary of the death of Kim Il-sung, his father and founder of the country, in Pyongyang, North Korea, last week.   (AP Photo/KRT via APTN, File)
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(Newser) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has life-threatening pancreatic cancer, reports Reuters, citing South Korean broadcaster YTN. Many observers believe the 67-year-old communist leader also suffered a stroke last year, though his apparent health problems have never officially been confirmed.

Kim looked gaunt and frail when photographed last week at a memorial service for his late father, Kim Il-sung, who founded North Korea and died at the age of 82 in 1994. South Korean officials believe the North's nuclear boasting and recent missile tests are Kim's way of shoring up his power and paving the way for his youngest son to take over as the next general secretary of the Workers' Party.