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Report: North Korea to hold election in March

  • Story Highlights
  • The polls are for five-year parliamentary terms, South Korea's Yonhap reports
  • North Korea skipped its last parliamentary elections, set for August 2008
  • A French surgeon says North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il had a stroke in August
  • Since then, Kim has been rarely seen in public, fueling speculation about his health
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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea will hold its delayed parliamentary elections in March, a sign that leader Kim Jong-Il's health is improving, according to South Korean state-run media.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il meets people at a library in the country's north in mid-December.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il meets people at a library in the country's north in mid-December.

North Korea skipped its elections set for August 2008, when the five-year terms of the assembly members expired, Yonhap reported Wednesday.

A French neurosurgeon told a French newspaper last year that Kim suffered a stroke in August, and he treated the North Korean leader.

Since then, Kim has been rarely seen in public, fueling speculation about his health.

The notice of the election was a "sign that Kim has recovered enough to appear in public," Yonhap reported.

The North has previously denied its leader was ever ill, and its state media has issued a series of reports portraying Kim as healthy and active.

In mid-December, state media said Kim made the rounds of a steel facility in the country's north. That tour did not generate pictures, but his stops the day before did at a library and an electronics research facility in Jagang Province.

Kim was shown bundled up in a parka with matching thick gloves. He was also wearing a fur hat and his signature dark sunglasses. The photos showed Kim engaged in conversation and active.

South Korean media noted the December excursion was the first time Kim had reappeared in public since October 4 -- after a hiatus of nearly 60 days.

CNN's Kathy Paik contributed to this report

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