North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il Is Dead

kim jong il

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North Korea’s oppressive leader Kim Jong-il is dead at 69.North Korea is saying he died of a fatigue this morning on a train. (More specifically, it sounds like a heart attack: “Acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a serious heart shock.”)

Kim has run the communist nation since 1997.

North Korean state TV is saying his son, Kim Jong-un, will be the successor. Kim Jong-un has been groomed for the job since 2008 when Kim Jong-il is believed to have suffered a stroke.

South Korea’s military is on alert right now as as a precaution. (Its stock market is diving on the news.) North Korea and South Korea exchanged artillery fire in August.

As the AP reports, very little is really known about North Korea. It has been an extremely isolated country. The night time photo of Korea below on the right, via Nate Silver of 538, shows just how isolated North Korea is. Note that there are no lights on in North Korea.

nk night

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Under Kim’s lead, the country has been openly antagonistic of the U.S. and the west, building long range missiles. The people of North Korea have been treated terribly, and live in poverty.North Korea is believed to be on its way to nuclear weapons, but it’s not known if it has them yet, or how far along it is.

This 2010 Slate article by the late Christopher Hitchens gives you an idea of how awful and backwards life under Kim has been:

A black Cuban diplomat was almost lynched when he tried to show his family the sights of Pyongyang. North Korean women who return pregnant from China—the regime’s main ally and protector—are forced to submit to abortions. Wall posters and banners depicting all Japanese as barbarians are only equaled by the ways in which Americans are caricatured as hook-nosed monsters. (The illustrations in this book are an education in themselves.) The United States and its partners make up in aid for the huge shortfall in North Korea’s food production, but there is not a hint of acknowledgement of this by the authorities, who tell their captive subjects that the bags of grain stenciled with the Stars and Stripes are tribute paid by a frightened America to the Dear Leader.

Don’t Miss: The Only 10 Things Known About North Korea’s Next Leader.