North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dies
Kim Jong-il, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, has died aged 69, state media announced on Monday morning. North Koreans poured into the streets to mourn the death of leader Kim Jong-il and state media hailed his untested son as the “Great Successor” of the reclusive state whose atomic weapons ambitions are a major threat to the region.
Earlier, a tearful North Korean television announcer, dressed in black and her voice quavering, said the 69-year old ruler died on Saturday of “physical and mental over-work” on a train on his way to give field guidance — advice dispensed by the “Dear Leader” on trips to factories, farms and the military.
Security concerns over the state, which in 2010 shelled civilians on a South Korean island and is accused of sinking one of its warships earlier that year, were heightened after Seoul said the North had test-fired a short range missile prior to the announcement of Kim’s death.
It was the first known launch since June and in a bid to calm tensions, South Korea’s defense ministry said it might abandon plans to light Christmas trees on the border, something the North has warned could provoke retaliation. A US official in Washington appeared to play down the missile test’s significance, saying it did not seem linked to Kim’s death. North Korea’s official KCNA news agency lauded Kim’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un as “the outstanding leader of our party, army and people.”