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North Korea's official media released new photographs on Wednesday of leader
North Korea's official media released new photographs on Wednesday of leader Kim Jong-il visiting two army units, in an apparent attempt to prove he is still alive and well.

The secretive communist state has reacted furiously to reports that Kim is in a critical state of health after suffering a stroke in August.

One of the photos released by the Korean Central News Agency shows the "Dear Leader" in a white coat and sunglasses with a group of soldiers. A banner above the troops reads: "Let us dedicate our lives to safeguarding our great leader comrade Kim, and his top revolutionary leaders."

As with previous photos released by Pyongyang, the South Korean government has said it is difficult to tell when they were taken, and impossible to draw conclusions as to Kim's health.

The official Rodong Sinmun daily said Kim "was greatly satisfied to see all the soldiers fully prepared politically, ideologically, physically and in military technique to be capable of beating back any surprise attack from the enemy in time, and of firmly defending the socialist motherland."

The South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies have said Kim, 66, may have suffered a stroke in August. Japanese media reports last month said a French brain surgeon travelled to the secretive communist state to operate on him.

However, Francois-Xavier Roux, head of neurosurgery at Paris' Sainte-Anne Hospital, who was shown on Japanese TV last month preparing to board a flight from Beijing to North Korea, on Wednesday denied reports that he had treated Kim.


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