World

Kim 'not physically perfect' but performing duties: spy chief

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, who has been out of sight for two months, is still performing his duties, according to South Korea's spy chief.

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-iI, who has been out of sight for two months, is still performing his duties, according to South Korea's spy chief.

Park Young-sun, a member of the Democratic party in South Korea, told the Associated Press that National Intelligence Service chief Kim Sung-ho has met with legislators in the country and informed them that Kim, 66, is still running the neighbouring country.

Kim is "not physically perfect" but has no trouble carrying out his duties, Park said legislators were told.

North Korea's leader reportedly suffered a stroke in mid-August, according to South Korean and U.S. officials.

Despite his disappearance from the public eye, North Korea has denied that he is ill.

Kim's absence at several important anniversary celebrations has sparked speculation about his health.

North Korea released pictures of Kim inspecting a military unit earlier this month, but many speculated that the undated pictures were not recent.

The spy chief also told legislators that the intelligence service believes Kim's eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, has travelled to France.

Kim's son reportedly met with a neurosurgeon in Paris who later left for North Korea, according to Japan's Fuji Television.

Kim, known to North Koreans as "Dear Leader," took over the reins of North Korea's highly centralized Communist government when his father died of a heart attack in 1994, a death that was not reported publicly for 36 hours.

Kim has three sons from two different women, but has not publicly named any of them as his successor.

Reports of Kim's health problems have spurred international talk of a need for preparations for North Korea's possible collapse.

With files from the Associated Press

now