Kim Jong Il inherited power after his father, revered North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, died in 1994. He had been groomed for 20 years to lead the communist nation founded by his guerrilla fighter-turned-politician father and built according to the principle of “juche” or self-reliance
Seoul: Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s mercurial and enigmatic leader whose iron rule and nuclear ambitions dominated world security fears for more than a decade, has died. He was 69, reports PTI.
Mr Kim’s death 17 years after he inherited power from his father was announced today by the state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
The 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.
North Korea has been grooming Kim’s third son to take over power from his father in the impoverished nation that celebrates the ruling family with an intense cult of personality.
South Korea put its military on “high alert” and president Lee Myung-bak convened a national security council meeting after the news of Kim’s death.
In a “special broadcast” today, state media said Mr Kim died of a heart ailment on a train due to a “great mental and physical strain” on Saturday during a “high intensity field inspection.”
Mr 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.
Kim Jong Il inherited power after his father, revered North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, died in 1994. He had been groomed for 20 years to lead the communist nation founded by his guerrilla fighter-turned-politician father and built according to the principle of “juche” or self-reliance.
In September 2010, Kim Jong Il unveiled his third son, the twenty-something Kim Jong Un, as his successor, putting him in high-ranking posts.
Even with a successor, there had been some fear among North Korean observers of a behind-the-scenes power struggle or nuclear instability upon the elder Kim’s death.
Few firm facts are available when it comes to North Korea, one of the most isolated countries in the world, and not much is clear about the man known as the “Dear Leader”.
North Korean legend has it that Mr Kim was born on Mount Paekdu, one of Korea’s most cherished sites, in 1942, a birth heralded in the heavens by a pair of rainbows and a brilliant new star. Soviet records, however, indicate he was born in Siberia, in 1941.
Kim Jong Il, a graduate of Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung University, was 33 when his father anointed him his eventual successor. Kim Jong Il took over after his father died in 1994, eventually taking the posts of chairman of the National Defence Commission, commander of the Korean People’s Army and head of the ruling Worker’s Party while his father remained as North Korea’s “eternal president”.
He faithfully carried out his father's policy of “military first”, devoting much of the country’s scarce resources to its troops even as his people suffered from a prolonged famine and built the world's fifth-largest military.
Mr Kim also sought to build up the country’s nuclear arms arsenal, which culminated in North Korea’s first nuclear test explosion, an underground blast conducted in October 2006.
Mr Kim was an enigmatic leader. But defectors from North Korea describe him as an eloquent and tireless orator.
Mr Kim cut a distinctive, if oft ridiculed, figure. Short and pudgy at 5-foot-3, he wore platform shoes and sported a permed bouffant.
Kim’s marital status wasn't clear but he is believed to have married once and had at least three other companions. He had at least three sons with two women, as well as a daughter by a third.
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