PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA—In an effort to dispel rumors of leader Kim Jong Il's failing health, the North Korean government released several new up-to-the-minute paintings in late September depicting the Asian dictator in peak physical condition.

"As anyone can see from these new murals, our Dear Leader is the very picture of health," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lee Myong Choi said of the 30-foot-high paintings, the artful brushstrokes of which showed the North Korean ruler confidently reading the current day's newspaper. "Note his radiant, youthful complexion, the sheen of his jet-black hair, the glorious starburst which appears to radiate from the very center of his being. Our supreme commander will undoubtedly be with us for many centuries to come." Lee later added that Kim was in such robust health that he was able to complete all of the new self-portraits in under an hour.

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