Meanwhile, South Korea is on alert for possible changes in North Korea. Here's more.
STORY: South Korea's president convened an emergency meeting of his cabinet late September 10 to prepare for possible changes in North Korea after speculation its leader Kim Jong-il had suffered a stroke.
[Kim Ho-nyeon, Unification Ministry spokesman]: "The president commanded us to be prepared in advance with precise counter measures so that we can respond properly without chaos under any circumstances, so we're being ready for it."
The mystery surrounding Kim leaves a frightening question mark for South Korea. In the event that the North collapsed, South Korea would face social chaos that could wreck Asia's fourth-largest economy. Kim's death would create huge uncertainty over leadership in a country whose deep distrust of the outside world is backed by a 1.2 million-troop-strong army and possibly atomic weapons. The North has threatened to turn the capitalist South Korea to dust and considers Japan and the United States its mortal enemies. Kim's illness comes as the North appears to be backing away from an international nuclear disarmament deal and analysts said progress would almost certainly be put off if there was a leadership struggle. In a move that could heighten tension, North Korea is nearing completion of a missile range capable of shooting off rockets that could hit all of South Korea and most of Japan, said analysts.
South Korea said in a 2006 intelligence report that when Kim died, it expected the North Korean government to devolve into top military officials battling for power, perhaps in partnership with one of Kim's three known sons. Kim was groomed for years to succeed his father and the North's founding president Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994. During his time in power, Kim has crushed dissent and placed an enormous distance between himself and any potential rival, which means there is no clear heir.