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Rumours persist about succession as North Korean leader Kim Jong Il turns 68

North Koreans are celebrating leader Kim Jong Il’s 68th birthday amid persistent questions about his health and the future leadership of the impoverished communist nation.

Tuesday is a national holiday in North Korea, where Kim rules his 24 million people with absolute authority. His health is a tightly guarded secret, but he is believed to suffering from a number of ailments on top of the stroke he reportedly suffered in August 2008.

Kim typically does not appear in public on his birthday. North Koreans, however, got an early birthday treat over the weekend. Pyongyang’s official news agency says children received “gifts of love”, which in past years meant cookies and sweets.


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