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NKorea: Kim Jong Il attends concert

Pyongyang appears to be trying to show Washington that Kim is in firm control of the communist nation.

world Updated: Nov 06, 2008 15:19 IST

Leader Kim Jong Il attended a classical music concert, North Korea's state-run news agency said in its third report in less than a week on the public appearances of a leader believed to have suffered a stroke several months ago.

Though Pyongyang's state media never provides exact dates when reporting on Kim's public activities, the recent rush of such reports suggests his health has improved after he reportedly underwent brain surgery following a stroke in mid-August.

Pyongyang appears to be trying to show Washington that Kim is in firm control of the communist nation during the US presidential election as the outside world continues to question his condition, one analyst said.

"I think this is a message to the United States," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies.

"The message appears to be that: "I make decisions on relations with the United States, the nuclear standoff and everything. I'm in control and I'm ready to have direct talks with" US President-elect Barack Obama.

The South's Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon said the recent frequency of the North's reports on Kim's public appearances is not unusual, as its state media had usually carried such reports every two or three days in the past.

"I mean the current situation is normal," Kim told reporters, adding that the lack of those reports over the past few months was "abnormal".