North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-il Dies

World | December 19, 2011, Monday // 08:30|  views

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994. Photo by BGNES

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died at the age of 69, the country's State television has announced.

Kim died on a train while visiting an area outside the capital, the announcement said, cited by BBC Monday. The emotional statement was read on national television by an anchor dressed in black, who said he had had a heart attack.

In 2008, the Communist leader suffered a stroke and stayed away from the public and the spotlight for months.

His designated successor is believed to be his youngest son, Kim Jong-un.

The funeral will be held in Pyongyang on December 28 and Kim Jong-un will head the funeral committee. A period of national mourning has been declared from 17 to 29 December.

South Korea's military has been put on alert following the announcement and its National Security Council is convening for an emergency meeting, BBC reports citing local media.

The Japanese government has also convened a special security meeting while White House said it was "closely monitoring" reports of the death. The US remained "committed to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies," it said in a statement.

South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak had spoken to US President Barack Obama by telephone and the two agreed to monitor the situation together.

There is still no official statement from China – North Korea's closest ally.

Kim led the communist nation since the death of his father in 1994, and inherited the leadership of the country from him.

Shortly after he came to power, a severe famine caused by faulty economic reforms and poor harvests left an estimated two million people dead.

His regime has been harshly criticized for violations of human rights and was internationally isolated because if its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Experts are quoted by BBC saying Kim's death could bring instability in North Korea, which the West fears over the country's nuclear program.

Details about Kim's son and successor are scarce, even his age is unknown - it is believed he is in his late 20s. He was educated in Switzerland and is the son of Kim's reportedly favorite wife. He has an older brother, Kim Jong-chol, and a older half-brother, Kim Jong-nam.

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Tags: North Korea, communist, leader, Kim Jong-il, death, heart attack, South Korea, China, Japan, US, nuclear program


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