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Il: Don't Cry for Me, North Korea

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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ILL? Il

The North Korean government is responding to rumors about Kim Jong Il's health by letting everyone knows that the tiny tyrant loves doing it all night long—tending to the official business of his brutally oppressive government, that is.

At least that's the story North Korean officials trotted out after a recent public appearance by Kim in which he appeared "thinner, with serious hair loss and dry skin." Far from a exfoliation/moisturizer issue, the appearance lent some credence to stories that have been circulating for months about Kim being unwell and possibly having bypass surgery after a heart attack.

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There are less scandalous possibilities. North Korea's official newspaper quickly ran a story quoting Kim on his nocturnal habits: "Staying up all night is my habit." And the North Korean government isn't alone in downplaying his appearance—a defector who once guarded Kim confirmed that the dictator often did paperwork and made phone calls all through the night. And some South Korean observers think he may just be losing weight.

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North Koreans who remember the traumatic sudden death of Kim's father in 1994 may be hoping that li'l Kim is doing okay—the Great Leader's passing reportedly caused many North Koreans to die "from excessive mourning and weeping." This video demonstrates how that very well may have happened.

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