Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kim Jong Il: fake photo or miracle recovery?

Instead of stifling rumors about North Korean leader Kim Jong Il a new picture is only raising more questions about his health.

North Korea has been trying to quiet talk that Kim is sick, or dead, by releasing pictures of the "Dear Leader", but the photos so far have shown Kim in isolated settings, giving no indication of where or when they really were taken. So North Korea tried putting out a new photo of Kim, this time standing with a large group of military officers dressed in seasonally appropriate winter garb.

But keen-eyed observers noticed something odd - while the rest of the people in the picture cast long shadows, Kim cast barely any shadow at all, leading many to believe that he had been digitally inserted into the photo (North Korea so far hasn't tried the explanation that Kim is such a force of nature he casts his own shadows).

Kim hasn't verifiably appeared in public since mid-August. Most Korea observers now think that he suffered a stroke and has been receiving care from a team of foreign doctors. While ill, Kim is still thought to be in control of he government and military.

The notoriously secretive North Korean government though hasn't helped to squash the rumors, and this likely-faked new photo won't help. Both South Korea and China are concerned that North Korea could descend into chaos if Kim dies and there is a fight to replace him. China is especially worried about a crush of refugees if the North Korean state collapses.
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