North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dead
Updated December 19, 2011 14:50:29/ABC news online
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died of a heart attack, a tearful state television announcer dressed in black reported.
Photo: Dead: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (Korea News Service: Reuters)
She said that the 69-year-old "passed away from a great mental and physical strain" while on a train trip, on his way to give "field guidance".
The news agency said he died at 8:30am on Saturday (local time) of a "severe myocardial infarction along with a heart attack".
An autopsy was performed on Sunday and a funeral is slated for December 28 the agency said.
Known at home as "the Dear Leader", Kim took over North Korea in 1994 when his father and founder of the reclusive state Kim Il-sung, known as "the Great Leader", died.
The state news agency called on North Koreans to follow Kim's son and designated successor, Kim Jong-un.
"All party members, military men and the public should faithfully follow the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-un and protect and further strengthen the unified front of the party, military and the public," state television said.
Kim suffered a stroke in August 2008 which left him with impaired movement in his left arm and leg.
The reclusive state had already begun the process of transferring power to Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s.
Images broadcast on North Korean television showed people crying on the streets of the capital Pyongyang after they heard the news.
The North has declared a period of national mourning from December 17 to 29.
Meanwhile, South Korea's Yonhap news agency says the South's military has been put on emergency alert.
The presidential Blue House has called an emergency National Security Council meeting, Yonhap said.
North and South Korea have remained technically at war since the three-year Korean conflict ended only in an armistice in 1953.
According to the United Nations, one third of all children under the age of five in North Korea are malnourished, and other countries have become less interested in donating food as the "hermit kingdom" battles efforts to constrain its nuclear program.
The UN World Food Programme says public distributions are running extremely low, and they are only able to help half the people who need aid. Meanwhile, the countries rulers stage outsized military parades, and some wonder whether food donations are being siphoned off to them. ....
....The death of the dictator however, presents a new level of unknowns politically, economically and militarily for the region and the world. Bordering China and Russia and short missile ride to Japan, nuclear-armed North Korea sits at the nexus of global interests. Unrest or disintegration of the regime would have large impacts on its neighbors, especially South Korea.
Consider that military analysts figure 300,000 troops would be needed to keep North Korea calm should the regime fall apart.
South Korean government financial officials were on high alert, making statements within minutes of the death announcement that that they were monitoring foreign exchange transactions and financial markets, a signal they will intervene if necessary to prevent too much volatility.
Kim Jong Il’ death, and the apparent appointment of his 20-something son Kim Jong Un as his successor, opens a new chapter and what it means for South Korea’s economy is unknown. South Korea has prepared for years for the collapse, knowing it will likely cost the South hundreds of billions of dollars to reconstruct the North, should unification ever come into play.
'Young general' tipped to lead North Korea
Updated December 19, 2011 15:37:43/ABC news online
Kim Jong-un Photo: Not much is known about Kim Jong-un - not even his age (Reuters)
Young and inexperienced, Kim Jong-un is seen as poised to take over North Korea with the death of his father, and extend the Kim dynasty's rule over the reclusive state for a third generation.
Not much is known about the younger Kim - not even his age. But his father Kim Jong-il and his autocratic regime had begun making preparations for the son's transition to power.
Thought to be aged around 27, Kim Jong-un had already been made a four-star general and occupied a prominent political post when he was reported to have made an important diplomatic visit to neighbouring China in May this year.
On the trip, he introduced himself to the destitute North's main benefactor, possibly one of the most crucial diplomatic moves he will ever make.
"The rest of the world is going to have to look at someone who is basically a kid as having China's support to be the North's next leader," Yang Moo-min, of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies, said at the time.
The youngest of the leader's three sons, Kim was most likely born in 1984. His name in Chinese characters translates as "righteous cloud" while the media calls him "the young general".
Educated in Switzerland, he is thought to speak English and German, and bears a striking resemblance to his grandfather, the North's founder, Kim Il-sung.
Analysts say two attacks on the peninsula last year, which killed 50 South Koreans, were aimed at winning the army's support for a continuation of dynastic rule and underscored an intent to maintain the state's military-first policy.
Experts say the young Kim is likely to follow the same militaristic path, maintaining a strong grip over one of the world's largest armies and pressing on with a nuclear weapons program in the face of international outrage. ...<cont>
BBC video report on Kim Jong-il's life & death:
19 December 2011 Last updated at 04:07 GMT Help
North Korean television has announced the death of Kim Jong-il, who has led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994.
He suffered a stroke in 2008 and was absent from public view for months.
His designated successor is believed to be his third son, Kim Jong-un, who is thought to be in his late 20s.
The BBC's James Robbins reports.
Amen to that, edgar.
I am hoping (perhaps somewhat unrealistically) that the next leader pays a damn sight more attention to the ordinary people of North Korea. Boring, mundane things (compared to the "dear leader's" concerns) like health , enough food in peoples' stomaches. That would make for a very positive change!
An idiot? Kind of like Dubyah?
The death of Kim Jong-il has sent shockwaves through Asia, with South Korea and Japan calling emergency meetings. ...
....South Korean president Lee Myung-bak has called for calm and placed the military on emergency alert.
"President Lee urged the public to go about their usual economic activities without turbulence," a senior presidential official told a televised news conference.
Foreign ministry spokesman Chung Min Lee says South Korea is not looking for a fight with its northern neighbour.
"We also want to send a very strong signal to the Chinese and the Russians that none of us here in South Korea want to exploit this particular situation," he said.
"I think this is something all of us here have been thinking about very carefully for the last couple of years." ....