September 12, 2008 in Nation/World

Reports say Kim Jong Il had stroke, brain surgery

By JAE-SOON CHANG Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea’s Kim Jong Il had brain surgery after a stroke last month and could have partial paralysis on one side, media reports said Thursday, after the South Korean government said the communist leader remained in control of his country.

Foreign doctors, possibly from China and France, performed the operation after Kim, 66, collapsed about Aug. 15, the newspapers Dong-a Ilbo and JoongAng Ilbo reported, citing unidentified government officials.

Kim’s condition has improved and he is not suffering from slurred speech, a disability often associated with a stroke, the reports said.

However, he has suffered from sporadic spasms, according to South Korea’s largest newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, citing a high-level Chinese official.

Kim is the object of an intense personality cult in the totalitarian nation, and the sight of him suffering spasms before a massive crowd would be an embarrassment that could undermine that status. He missed a parade Tuesday commemorating the communist state’s founding 60 years ago.

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