Back in the autumn of 2008 the North-Korea-watching-world was abuzz with speculation about Kim Jong-il’s health since he had vanished from public view in August (see more here). Fueling the speculation, Kim Jong-il missed the country’s 60th anniversary celebrations in September–which everyone expected him to attend (read more here). KJI marked his return to “public life” on October 4th of that year when he attended a student football match (read more here). According to KCNA:
Pyongyang, October 4 (KCNA) — General Secretary Kim Jong Il enjoyed a student football match on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of Kim Il Sung University, the highest institution of Juche-based education and science.
There was the football match between teams of Kim Il Sung University and Pyongyang University of Railways that day, at which the former beat the latter 4-1.
KCNA released several pictures of the match, but I post the most important below along with a satellite image of the location from Google Earth:
In both Google Earth images I have marked off the respective image locations using red arrows. The top images are the most convincing: The fence, the covering, the field, and hilltop in the background are all spot-on matches . There is a viewing stand as well (shown in the bottom pictures). The other official photos, which I did not post, match the satellite imagery as well. You can see them all in the original KCTV broadcast on YouTube.
Just to be safe, I checked out the football fields at Kim Il-sung University and the Pyonyang University of Railroads and neither come close to matching the photographs:
I also checked the hundreds of football fields that I have tagged on my Google Earth file. None of those match either.
So I think it is fair to say that Kim Jong-il watched the football match from his home in the Kangdong compound (39.200045°, 126.020564°) and this is where he recovered from his surgery, or stroke, or whatever befell him, in the fall of 2008. Or maybe this is just what they want us to think and he was actually in Wonsan or Hamhung? It is also worth noting that this compound received a new helipad sometime between March 6, 2004 and December 17, 2006 (39.204600°, 126.014662°).