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South Korea skeptical over details of Kim Jong Il's death

South Korea questions North Korea's details over how Kim Jong Il died.

Kim jong il dead photo 2011Enlarge
North Korea's state TV network broadcasts images of deceased ruler Kim Jong Il on a ceremonial platform. (Screengrab)

Information coming out of North Korea has always been treated with a heavy dose of skepticism. Now, South Korean officials are reportedly showing the same skepticism over Pyongyang's version of how former dictator Kim Jong Il died.

North Korea has said that Kim, who ruled the country since his father died 1994, was traveling by train Saturday when he had a heart attack and died. The North made an announcement via state media Monday morning, a full two days after Kim allegedly died.

The idea that a country's leader could be dead for two full days without anyone in the international community knowing has gotten considerable attention and has been pointed to as a further example of how closed off and isolated the country continues to be.

GlobalPost's Emily Lodish wrote: "The window opens for speculation. Perhaps it's evidence that a power vacuum is already underway, for instance."

Read more: Kim Jong Il's secret death

But South Korea's top spy and defense ministry are now saying that Pyongyang's official story might not be true, the Los Angeles Times reported.

South Korea's top spy, Won Sei-hoon, told lawmakers in Seoul that a review of satellite photographs revealed that Kim's train was actually stationary at a Pyongyang station at the time of the ruler's death, as announced by the North, according to media reports.

Won reportedly told officials, "There were no signs the train ever moved."

The Times states that Kim may have died on his bed at home, but that North Korean officials may have recreated the event to fit their propaganda machine and ensure the transition of power to Kim's son, Kim Jong Un.

Read more: Kim Jong Un "to share power:" report

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that tens of thousands of North Koreans came out Wednesday to pay their respects to their late leader.

A huge crowd of mourners converged on Kim Il Sung Square with traditional white mourning flowers in hand. The crowd grew throughout the day, even as heavy snow fell, and some mourners took off their jackets to shield mourning wreaths set up in Kim's honor, just below the spot where he stood last year waving to crowds at the massive military parade where he introduced his successor, Kim Jong Un.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/111221/south-korea-skeptical-kim-jong-il-death