Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Oh No, Not Another South Korean Media Scoop Sourced from Japan Citing U.S. Sources! But Could the Kim Jong Il Dementia Allegations Have Legs?

I believe South Korean media scoops sourced from Japan citing U.S. sources about as much as, say, Japanese wires citing South Korean media exclusives about U.S.-North Korean negotiations. So usually, I enjoy stories like this with guilty pleasure and the usual dose of skepticism reserved for weekly tabloid headlines, then move on. But the reports of an expressionless, disinterested Kim Jong Il on the occasion of the visit of his South Korean counterpart caught my eye. True, the perfunctory handshake in the place of the comradely hug (that he gave to Kim Dae-jung what seems like an eternity ago) and the expressionless visage that he displays throughout what must be carefully controlled reporting seem to show a forlorn figure barely able to function publicly.

But then, Mr. Kim has never looked very comfortable appearing before crowds, a trait he shares with another second-generation head of state and nemesis.

Here's an unsatisfactorily incomplete video clip courtesy of BBC. Mr. Kim looks disengaged throughout, though he does clap when passing the cheering throng with South Korean President.

I link, you decide.

Does anyone know a good source for data on Kim Jong Il's state visits and visitors over the years? And number of public appearances? Ther must be many people keeping track of such stuff.

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