BREAKING NEWS: KIM JONG-IL HAS DIED
According to KCNA (Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's State news agency) their former 'Great Leader' has died from physical and mental hardship, whilst on a train, travelling to a field guidance tour. He officially passed away on Friday evening (2330 GMT or 830 on Saturday local time)
For a leader who was so revered, he was rarely seen by the world, and heard only once in 1992 at a Communist rally, by his own citizens (when he said "Glory to the people's heroic military."). His only broadcast is proof that he followed his father's belief of 'Military first.' This also means that North Korea has the world's 5th largest army. He lived a lavish life, with compounds in the major North Korean cities, including some accessible by railroad only and one with an artificial lake.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr Kim's image was due to two things- 'the first was his country's over-the-top propaganda portraying him as peerless leader, master of all knowledge and gifted athlete. The second was the clearly visible poverty and desperation of North Koreans that resulted from his decisions to put the survival of his regime and the country's elite ahead of his people's welfare.'
He is being mourned by North Koreans, of all ages- with the KCNA showing images of people weeping openly, and bowing in the streets, and even politicians banging fists on tables.
Reaction to his death has been varied, particularly in Asia itself, with neighbouring South Korea preparing its armed forces, and China, a fellow communist country sending its own distress and grief at the sudden news. Japan hoped that the news would mean no 'negative effect on Korean peninsula security'. Even President Obama has 'reaffirmed the United States' strong commitment to the stability of the Korean Peninsula and the security of our close ally, the Republic of Korea," said the statement.
His youngest son Kim Jong-Eun is widely believed to be his successor, consolidating his power in 2012.
North Korea will hold a 'period of mourning' from December 17-29th and called for national unity amongst its people.
To read more about the Wall Street Journal article, click here.
To read more about the Xinhua article, including a profile of Kim Jong-Il, click here
For more about North Korea, please read Paul French's book, 'North Korea', including details of how to buy it, please click here