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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il died at age 69

Kim Jong-Il
North Korea's longtime leader, Kim Jong-Il, has died of heart failure. labeled him as North Korea's longtime dictator who allowed his people to starve while building a vast military. Well, I'm not sure if that was meant to be a compliment or an insult, but that really depends on point of view.

His death sparked immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program.

Citing YTN TV, Reuters also reported that North Korea test-fired a short-range missile off the country's east coast on Monday.

A "special broadcast" from the North Korean capital, state media said the 69-year-old died of a heart ailment on a train due to a "great mental and physical strain" on Saturday during a "high intensity field inspection." It said an autopsy was completed on Sunday and "fully confirmed" the diagnosis.

A spokesperson at the Unification Ministry confirmed Kim's death to NBC News. His funeral will be held on December 28.

Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008, but he had appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media.

The communist country's "Dear Leader" - reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine - was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

"It is the biggest loss for the party... and it is our people and nation's biggest sadness," an anchorwoman clad in black Korean traditional dress said in a voice choked with tears. She said the nation must "change our sadness to strength and overcome our difficulties."

Kim Jong-Il is going to be succeeded by his youngest son, Kim Jong Un.

Video from Chinese state television showed residents of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, weeping while KCNA reported people were "Writhing in pain" from the loss.

Jim Hoare, a British former diplomat who served in North Korea after the countries established relations in 2000, told Sky News that Kim's death left considerable uncertainty.

"Nobody can be sure what change will be like," he said. "We don't really know who has power, who doesn't have power. We're always guessing."

Hoare said that television footage showing emotional North Koreans could be seen as "formalized grief."

"This is what people expect to do on a sad occasion," he added. "Whether they genuinely feel it, I don't know."


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