- The North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has not appeared
in public for 43 days, observers said, triggering speculation that he putting
his country in a war posture. Mr. Kim was absent from the Supreme People's
Assembly meeting on Wednesday; his last public appearance was Feb. 12 at
the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang. Experts on North Korea say Kim's withdrawal
is deliberate and that North Korea has gone into a semibelligerent state
since the outbreak of the Iraqi war. Sixty-one other top-level officials
were absent from the assembly meeting.
- One expert, Cho Myung-chul at the Korea Institute for
International Economic Policy, who was a professor at Kim Il Sung University
before defecting to the South, said that the 61 absentees would be commanding
officers and that it seemed North Korea was in a state of war. Another
North Korea expert said that North Koreans would take Kim's absence from
the assembly meeting to mean that they are under an emergency situation...