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North Korea releases photo of Kim Jong Il

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  • North Korea's Kim Jong Il is seen smiling at soccer game
  • Speculation continues to surround health of reclusive leader
  • Recent photos also showed Kim believed to be touring military facility
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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea has released a photograph of a smiling Kim Jong Il, the latest in an apparent attempt to dispel rumors that the reclusive leader is gravely ill.

North Korea released a photo of a smiling Kim Jong Il amid speculation of his health.

The picture, broadcast on state television Sunday, show Kim sitting inside what appears to be a VIP box, watching a soccer game. The broadcast did not say when the photo was taken, nor did it carry any video

The anchorwoman said the photo was taken at a game between two army teams. It shows Kim in dark sunglasses and a dark jacket.

The anchorwoman also said the players felt "a fire in their heart" at meeting the North Korean leader.

Kim, 66, has not been seen in public since August 14. His absence from numerous events that he would normally attend has raised questions about his health. Some unconfirmed reports said the North Korean leader underwent brain surgery after suffering a stroke over the summer.

North Korean television broadcast a series of photos in October showing Kim during a visit to a military facility.

That broadcast came a week after North Korea's KCNA news agency reported that Kim made a rare public appearance at a Pyongyang soccer match. No photos were ever shown of that event.

However, the narrator of that broadcast said the female soldiers' "hearts were pounding" because of Kim.

CNN Seoul Bureau Chief Sohn Jie-ae contributed to this report.

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