In TV footage Wednesday, the 67-year-old Kim was markedly thinner and had less hair. He also limped slightly, and the sides of his tightlipped mouth looked imbalanced in what were believed to be the effects of a stroke he reportedly suffered last August.
[Photo at LEFT 2007 ----- Photo at RIGHT July 2009]
Images of the gaunt Kim made the front pages of many South Korean newspapers Thursday. Chosun Ilbo said the loss of weight and hair appear to be result of other health problems. Shinmun reported that the sides of Kim's mouth could suggest the aftereffects of the stroke have worsened.
South Korea's spy agency has long suspected that Kim has diabetes and heart disease. Medical doctor and professor Min Yang-ki of Seoul's Hallym University Medical Center said diabetes usually leads to weight loss. The neurologist also said Kim's limping appears to be a result of a stroke. However, he said, overall it appeared Kim has recovered from the illness.