North Korea has started making a multipart film documenting Kim Jong Il's life story for the first time amid renewed speculation about the 67-year-old leader's health.
The retrospective film could be an ominous sign about his health. South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper noted Thursday that the regime began producing a similar film about Kim's late father, national founder , in 1993 a year before he died of heart failure, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The multi-episode “I Will Add Glory to Korea” chronicles Kim’s birth and childhood, the communist nation’s official Korean Central News Agency said late yesterday. While state media has previously glorified his life, the latest documentary follows intelligence reports he’s preparing to transfer power to a son after suffering a stroke last year.
“I think Kim Jong Il may have decided to make the final cut of the documentary outlining his life while he is still physically able to do so,” said Yang Moo Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “He considers himself an expert on movie making,” Bloomberg reports.
Meanwhile North Korea released new photographs of Kim Jong Il touring a factory.
Wearing sunglasses and a short-sleeved shirt, Kim appeared generally OK in the images released Tuesday night — thin but no worse than in other recent photographs. He has grown frailer over the past year after reportedly suffering a stroke last summer.
In some of the images, carried by North Korean TV and the official Korean Central News Agency, Kim was walking around a newly built tile factory, smiling broadly. The photos were undated, but KCNA had sent a text report about the tour on Monday without specifying the date of the visit.
According to the Yonhap news agency other photos, however, showed Kim sitting in a chair during an outdoor briefing by factory officials while a soldier held a sunshade over him. Such images are unusual and could suggest his health may not be good.
But South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said Wednesday that it is not the first time the North has released photos of Kim sitting during his field-guidance trips, The Associated Press reports.