Report: NKorean leader visits Pyongyang zoo
By KWANGTAE KIM,Associated Press Writer AP - 2 hours 54 minutes ago
SEOUL, South Korea - North Korean leader Kim Jong Il went to the Pyongyang zoo and visited the tigers, bears and aquarium, state-run media said Tuesday, in the latest in a spate of reports depicting Kim as fit three months after his reported stroke.
During the visit, Kim praised the reconstruction of the Central Zoo at the foot of Mount Taesong, calling it a treasure of the communist nation, the Korean Central News Agency said from the capital, Pyongyang.
He noted that the zoo houses a variety of animals _ some rare _ sent as gifts from around the world, and called on zookeepers to make sure to care for them, said the report, monitored in Seoul.
Kim, 66, is believed to have suffered a stroke in August, but North Korea has steadfastly denied he was ever ill.
On Monday, state-run television released still images of a fit-looking Kim touring a military unit. None of the reports provide an exact date for his appearances, but they appear to be recent.
Tuesday's dispatch was one of the first to provide a location: Pyongyang's Central Zoo. No photos were released with the report.
KCNA said Kim was accompanied by top officials, including his brother-in-law, Jang Song Thaek, who heads the administrative department of the all-powerful Workers' Party.
Kim, who inherited leadership of the Stalinist country from his father, has not publicly named a successor. Many analysts consider Jang a key player in the North's future leadership.
The latest dispatches come amid tensions between the two Koreas, with the North restricting traffic through its border with South Korea on Monday. Relations have soured since a new pro-U.S., conservative South Korean government took office in February with a pledge to take a firmer line on the North.
The images sent Monday and distributed by South Korea's Unification Ministry showed Kim smiling during a visit to an air force unit. The North Korean leader is dressed in a winter parka, brown fur hat, thick gloves and his trademark sunglasses.
There is speculation the reported stroke may have affected Kim's left hand. Most recently released photos show him with his left hand tucked into his jacket pocket.
The latest photos show Kim clapping, though the thick gloves make it hard to gauge his use of his left hand.
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