NORTH KOREA

Kim Jong-il Returning From China

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is on his way back home today after a secret trip to China, which analysts said could have been to drum up support from other communist leaders for a power succession to his youngest son. Kim reportedly took a private train to Beijing with his son, Kim Jong Eun, although Beijing officials would not confirm that the North Korean leader had traveled there. A South Korean newspaper reported Kim visited Chinese President Hu Jintao in Changchun on Friday and then Kim reportedly visited the middle school his father attended in the late 1920s. Kim is 68 years old and in poor health following a stroke in 2008, and he is expected to announce his son as his successor next month as the head of the ruling Workers Party. Kim’s trip abroad coincides with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s visit to North Korea last week to free an American English teacher held by North Koreans for illegally entering the country.