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Cablegate: Inter-Korean Summit: Leaders Comments On Health,

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUL #3025 2780852
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050852Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6863
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 3214
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 8289
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3354
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA J2 SEOUL KOR PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA J5 SEOUL KOR PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA SCJS SEOUL KOR PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//OSD/ISA/EAP// PRIORITY

UNCLAS SEOUL 003025

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PGOV PINR KS KN
SUBJECT: INTER-KOREAN SUMMIT: LEADERS COMMENTS ON HEALTH,
DRINKING AND DECIDING


1. (SBU) Summary: The second ever inter-Korean summit, held
in Pyongyang October-2-4, offered rare glimpses of North
Korean leader Kim Jong-il's thoughts and preoccupations. KJI
made surprisingly many public comments, mostly intended for
the South Korean and international audience. KJI's comments
were also an attempt to show the world that he was the senior
partner on the Peninsula and that he should be treated as
such. End Summary.

-- KJI on His Health

2. (U) During the October 4 farewell luncheon for Roh, KJI
told the South Korean press that there were various "reports
as if I had diabetes on top of heart disease, but that's not
really true." Commenting on reports of German doctors in
Pyongyang in June, KJI explained that "we are inviting people
so we can ask them to conduct and strengthen research because
our research into heart illness is weak, but they are
reporting incorrectly." Still, showing a sense of humor, KJI
said "I don't necessarily feel offended, because they seem
to show enormous interest in covering me, and I don't dislike
that."

3. (SBU) South Korean press commented that KJI seemed
considerably weaker than seven years ago. He moved slowly
and his waist-line, already considerable in 2000, had further
expanded. However, reports of KJI suffering from serious
sickness, such as heart problems, Alzheimer's, and even being
immobile, are clearly not correct.

-- KJI and Roh: One-Upmanship?

4. (U) On Oct 3, just before the summit, KJI abruptly asked
Roh, "Are you a good drinker? Do you prefer soju or beer?"
Roh was clearly puzzled and seemed to digest the question
somewhat before responding, "I understand that Pyongyang has
really good soju."

5. (U) Another humorous episode was when Roh said very
seriously, "Thank you for being at the welcoming ceremony in
person." KJI laughed and said, "Since I'm not a sick patient
or anything, there was no reason for me to laze around the
house."

6. (SBU) Probably the tensest public moment was when invited
Roh to stay one more day, declaring "Tomorrow we'll have
lunch (before you return)( I would like you to take your
time, sit down and relax, and have meal with your belt
loosened. I suggest that you extend your stay for another
day." An obviously disturbed Roh looked bewildered and said,
"There are two that are more powerful than I am -- Let me
first consult my security team and protocol team." KJI
responded bluntly, saying, "Aren't you the President? You
cannot decide?" Roh composed himself and then responded, "I
decide on big things, but on others my security and protocol
make the decision." Soon thereafter, KJI told the press that
"Since we talked sufficiently, we won't need to (extend the
stay)."

-- Roh on Respect

7. (SBU) Upon arriving at "Man-su-dae," the NK Supreme
People's Assembly building, Roh wrote in the visitors' book,
"Hall of the people's sovereignty, where the people's
happiness originates." At the dinner table Roh said, "There
is an indispensable thing for a successful N-S peace and
economy: Chairman KJI should live long and healthy(," and
proposed, "Speaking of health, let's give a toast to Chairman
Kim's health!" After his morning session of the summit on
Oct 3, Roh said to the rest of the South Korean delegation,
"I felt no small challenge (at the summit)," "We need to be
attentive and considerate in respecting the NK regime."
VERSHBOW

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