Speculation is growing that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il may have suffered a stroke after he failed to appear at a military parade celebrating the country’s 60th birthday.
Kim has not been seen in public since early last month, giving rise to speculation he could be seriously unwell – particularly given the symbolic nature of this anniversary.
Rumours of ill-health have been fuelled by news that a team of Chinese doctors was recently brought in to examine him.
It comes amid rising tension between Pyongyang and the international community. North Korea stopped disabling its Yongbyong nuclear facility in August, in protest at Washington’s refusal to drop it from a terrorist blacklist.