SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's Kim Jong Il is on the road to recovery from a stroke and still in control of his isolated country's communist regime, South Korea suggested Wednesday, disputing reports that the leader is gravely ill.
President Lee Myung Bak convened a meeting of top security ministers, who were briefed on intelligence that indicates Kim was recovering, said Lee Dong Kwan, the president's chief spokesman.
The North Korean leader was currently "not seen to be in a serious condition," the spokesman said in a statement after the meeting late Wednesday, citing the contents of the briefing.
Earlier, South Korea's spy agency told a closed door meeting of lawmakers it had intelligence showing the 66-year-old Kim's condition had much improved, an agency official said on condition of anonymity.
South Korea's optimistic view of Kim's health came as North Korea moved to try and dispel fears about his health after he failed to appear for a key national ceremony Tuesday.
"There are no problems," Kim Yong Nam, Pyongyang's No. 2 leader and ceremonial head of state, told Japan's Kyodo News agency.
Song Il Ho, a senior North Korean diplomat, called reports of Kim's illness "worthless" and a "conspiracy plot," adding that Western media "have reported falsehoods before," according to Kyodo's dispatch from Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.