North Korea's Kim Jong-il dead at 69
"Dear Leader" dies after massive heart attack, reports say, prompting national mourning in secretive communist nation.
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2011 04:07
Kim Jong-il, the leader of North Korea, has died at the age of 69 after suffering a heart attack, North Korean state media has announced.
The official KCNA news agency said on Monday that Kim, known in the communist country as the "Dear Leader", died on Saturday aboard a train during a trip out of Pyongyang.
An autopsy was performed on Sunday, and the North declared a period of national mourning from December 17 to 29. KCNA that Kim's funeral would take place on December 28.
The announcement of Kim's death prompted South Korea to place its military on emergency alert, while shares on the stock market in Seoul fell nearly five per cent amid uncertainty over the stability of the secretive nuclear-armed nation.
South Korea's presidential Blue House called an emergency national security council meeting, and the country's central bank and market regulators also announced emergency meetings.
Kim Jong-il last year appointed his third son, Kim Jong-un, to a number of high-ranking posts in moves seen as positioning Kim Jong-un as his assumed successor after years of speculation about the elder Kim's fading health.
Reclusive 'dear leader'
Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but 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.
But the leader, reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine, was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.
"Just a couple of days ago, it was publicised that he was visiting a military installation," Don Kirk of the Christian Science Monitor told Al Jazeera.
"Obviously there will be a long period of pubilc mourning in the country, but the sense is that at least he organised his succession with [his son] Kim Jong-un taking over."
"The country looks stable, but whether it will remain stable is not clear," he said.
Kim took power in 1994 upon the death of his father, Kim Il-sung, who had led North Korea since the Korean Peninsular was split in half by the Korean War. Although the two sides signed a ceasefire in 1953 they remain technically at war.
Pyongyang is due to celebrate the milestone 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung, who is known as the "Eternal Leader, in April 2012.
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