When the leader is Kim Jong Il, it's big news: bit, international news.
Since the report came from North Korea's official news agency, and the North Korean stand has been that Kim Jon Il is neither dead, dying, or sick, I take the news with a grain of salt.
But I think that the odds that Kim Jong Il is alive have gone up enormously.
His state of health is something else: someone who suffered a debilitating stroke could watch a soccer match, stand up, walk around, and sit again, and still be ill-prepared to run a country.
But, at least North Korea still has (in all probability) a living, breathing Dear Leader. Which, under the circumstances, is probably just as well.
I don't regard Kim Jong Il as an ideal person to run a country, but having him in charge is probably better than having a North Korea run by a bunch of generals.
In that scenario, I'd expect quite a lot of jockeying for the position of big kahuna. And, human nature being what it is, I think that one of the players might decide that he'd look better if he pretended to be protecting North Korea from foreign aggression, or really thought the running dog capitalistic imperialistic Yankees were attacking. Either way, it could be really bad news for people living in places like Juneau, Honolulu, Tokyo, or Seoul.
In the news:
- "North Korea's Kim Jong Il Steps Out for First Time Since Reports of Stroke"
FOXNews (October 4, 2008)
- "SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Il watched a university soccer game, a state-run news agency said from Pyongyang on Saturday, reporting on his first public appearance in nearly two months amid speculation about his health...."
- "North Korea's Kim watches football match: report "
ABS/CBN News (October 4, 2008)
- "SEOUL - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, at the center of speculation over rumors of poor health, watched a football game, the communist state's official news agency reported Saturday...."
- "Kim Jong-il makes first appearance since illness"
Reuters (October 4, 2008)
- "SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il made his first public appearance since reports last month that he may have suffered a stroke, a state news report said on Saturday...."