Sources in South Korea's embassy in China are verifying claims that Kim Jong-Il collapsed on August 22nd. He has not been seen in public for nearly a month and was conspicuously absent from a militaristic display celebrating the 60th anniversary of the DPRK.
This development comes at the same time a former Japanese intel officer claims that Kim died in 2003 and has 4 body doubles. Rumors like these are usually based off inabilities to explain incongruent events. The existence of these rumors in such close proximity point to something developing in the North concerning Kim Jong-Il.
The innocent explanation of Kim's absence from the parade (which he attended in 1998 and 2003) is, according to one analyst, " He has nothing to show his people, with a deadlock in nuclear disarmament talks and in normalisation talks with Japan on top of food shortages."
The explanation that Kim Jong-Il has actually died, or is in serious condition, is bolstered by two additional facts: 1) A team of Chinese doctors were dispatched to the DPRK around the time of Kim's reported collapse and have yet to return 2) North Korea's recent rhetoric concerning the six-party talks, disarmament, and rebuilding the Yongbyon reactor.
The official statement from North's foreign ministry criticized the 'verification requirement' as an unjust demand. They made a counter-demand of verification that no nuclear weapons are in South Korea and assurances that U.S. will not send them there. Most telling, they invoked the term 'nuclear deterrent' for only the second time since 2006. The state-run media has used the term 'war deterrent' numerous times - in comparison with sparse prior mentions - since the date of Kim's reported collapse (possibly a stroke, or complications with his diabetes).
The 'spokesman statement' from the North also mentioned that steps concerning the rebuilding of the Yongbyon reactor will take into account the demands of relevant North Korean agencies. In 2002, a concrete statement was issued in which no consideration was given to 'multiple or competing voices within the regime' in regards to nuclear activities.
These considerations lend credence to rumors that something is wrong in North Korea. There is no heir-apparent and North Korean leaders are aware of that a crisis in leadership could present and opening for the toppling of their government by Western interests. The rhetoric on the reactor, and invoking a 'nuclear deterrent', could well be their attempts at deterring the West while they are in the midst of a crisis.
Why would they derail the talks? Why invoke the strong language of 'nuclear deterrent'? Why issue a statement that mentions different, possible dissenting voices within the power structures of the government? Kim Jong-Il has given no such consideration to other agencies of the government and their wishes. If he is still running North Korea at the moment, these statements represent a departure from his past behavior and his style of governing.