All eyes on N Korea 'announcement'

South Korea says no signs of reported "major announcement" from across the border.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has not been seen in public for months [EPA]

    The weekend news reports had fuelled speculation over the health of Kim Jong-il, the reclusive North Korean leader, who has not been seen in public since August.

    Speaking at a news briefing on Monday, Kim Ho-nyeon, a spokesman for South Korea's unification ministry, said they had "nothing to confirm" regarding the North Korean leader's health.

    He added: "There are no unusual signs regarding civilian exchanges between the South and the North. They are going on as scheduled."

    "All of the North's domestic broadcasts, its international events and domestic events are being conducted normally," he said.

    South Korean intelligence officials suspect Kim, 66, may have suffered a stroke and undergone brain surgery but Pyongyang has denied there is anything wrong with him.

    While speculation has centred on a North Korean announcement related to the health of its leader, some analysts have said another possiblity could be related to relations between North and South Korea.

    Last week, North Korea threatened to cut all ties with the South, a major source of food and cash aid, in protest at the tough policies of the conservative president, Lee Myung-bak.

    An escalation in tensions between the two Koreas could cause problems for the South by making it more expensive for South Korean companies to raise funds internationally at a time when the economy is already facing major troubles.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.