Kim Jong Il made a triumphant return to parliament Thursday for his reappointment as the leader of North Korea on the heels of a rocket launch heralded as "historic" at home but assailed elsewhere as provocative.
Kim, presiding over the opening session of the reclusive communist country's rubber-stamp legislature, was making his first major public appearance since reportedly suffering a stroke last August. He appeared considerably thinner and older than nine months ago.
Arriving to a standing ovation from fellow deputies to the 687-seat Supreme People's Assembly, he returned their applause by clapping, then motioned for them to be seated, footage broadcast on state TV Thursday evening showed.
Legislators approved Kim as chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, an appointment that under the constitution makes him the nation's top leader while his father, late North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, remains "eternal president."
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