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S. Korea has 'no information' on Kim Jong-il's reported pancreatic cancer

All Headlines 11:18 July 13, 2009

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government has no information on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il having pancreatic cancer as reported by a local broadcaster Monday, officials said.

"This morning, there was another report about Chairman Kim Jong-il's health, mentioning a particular illness. With regard to today's report, so far, I have no information," Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said in a press briefing.

Citing unidentified intelligence sources in Seoul and Washington, the cable news channel YTN said Kim, 67, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer around the same time he is believed to have had a stroke in August last year.

The report, quoting medical sources in Beijing, said the illness was "life-threatening." Kim may not live more than five years, given the high mortality rate of pancreatic cancer and his old age, it said.

An official from the National Intelligence Service also said he "was unable to confirm the report."

Kim's health condition is at the center of international media attention, it being a decisive factor in what happens to the communist country if he dies without publicly naming a successor.

Kim is rumored to have internally named his third and youngest son, Jong-un, as the successor. Jong-un, born to Kim's deceased third wife Ko Yong-hui and either 25 or 26 years old, is said to resemble the leader the most in temperament and appearance among the siblings.

hkim@yna.co.kr
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