SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean state media has reported that Kim Jong Il paid a visit to a cosmetics factory on Nov. 24, providing a rare exact date for an appearance by the leader since he reportedly suffered a stroke in August.
The North has denied the 66-year-old leader was ever ill. Reports and photos depicting Kim as active and healthy have not provided dates or locations, raising questions about how recently they were taken.
The broadcast report is the first dispatch in months to provide an exact date for Kim's public appearances, South Korea's Unification Ministry said Thursday.
Tuesday's TV report said Kim inspected a factory in the city of Sinuiju. Footage monitored in Seoul showed factory manager Kim Hye Young saying Kim visited her factory Nov. 24. The report did not include footage of the actual visit.
Kim's health is of keen interest because the Stalinist leader rules the isolated, nuclear-armed country with absolute authority and has not publicly anointed a successor.