So the husband of our Secretary of State is in North Korea right now — in a totally unofficial capacity, we are informed — just cold negotiatin' the release of a couple of political prisoners. Bill Clinton's trip there — its prospects of success or failure, the concessions we may or may not need to make to secure the release of two reporters, the implications of a former head of state visiting a country with which we do not have diplomatic relations — is interesting for a whole host of reasons, but most interesting of all is the fact that the West gets to see how Kim Jong-il is looking these days.
Since Kim's stroke last fall, the state-controlled North Korean media has been very selective about releasing new photos of Dear Leader, just like how in high school you would pretend to be sick on days when you had really bad acne breakouts. But Bill Clinton meeting directly with Kim, presumably to ask him a personal favor, outweighs the embarrassment, so Korean TV is trumpeting the visit, and Reuters has some screengrabs. Including this one.
You guys, I'm really worried about Kim Jong-il. Homeboy is looking emaciated.