North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died of a heart attack at the age of 69, state media have announced.
Millions of North Koreans were "engulfed in indescribable sadness", the KCNA state news agency said, as people wept openly in Pyongyang.
KNCA described one of his sons, Kim Jong-un, as the "great successor" whom North Koreans should unite behind.
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Since so much mystery surround Kim Jong Un, I think we can all just hold our breaths. Right now, things can go 2 ways, but it is known he, at one point, questioned the lives of the citizens. He is educated (outside of Kore, Russia, and China), although they say he is much like his father, it is too unknown. I think it's unfair to assume he is a tyrant only because no one knows anything about him.
To me, it's not morally correct to say someone needs to die (this is just me), but I am glad that the people of North Korea, as brainwashed as they are by their 'Great Leader', have a window to stand up against their young ruler. Though it is said that Kim Jong Un might not take office so quickly, considering he is so young, it might just be the military in charge for a while. If that's the case, these people will continue to be brainwashes, and scared into worshipping their leader.
I have family in South Korea, my grandfather had sons he was separated from during the Korean War and he hasn't seen them in years. I hope Kim Jong Un is a change, or that the people will take over, and we can see a unification or at least freedom for their own country. Everyone is just holding their breath for right now.
Here's some speculation........The Koreas: To Reunify or Not?Kim Jong Il's sudden death sent Seoul scrambling — and reignited decades-old questions about the future of the Korean peninsulahttp://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/12/20/the-koreas-to-reunify-or-not/More than any other nation, South Korea feels most threatened by the North. Indeed, the two neighbors are still technically at war. So Pyongyang’s announcement yesterday of Kim Jong Il’s death sent Seoul scrambling. Frazzled lawmakers packed up their things and rushed out of party meetings. The KOSPI tumbled. According to the Korean press, the nation’s defense minister heard the news from North Korean television like millions of others. President Lee Myung Bak cleared his desk for the day and put his nation’s military on the highest alert.Since he came to power in 2008, Lee, a former CEO, has taken a no-nonsense approach to the unpredictable North. He reversed the South’s nearly decade-long “sunshine policy” of engagement with Pyongyang which was forged to persuadethe North to behave better. Instead, Lee, 70, played hardball. Referring to the previous years as the “lost decade,” Lee put into place a revised strategy that made South Korean aid contingent on the North’s dismantling its arm program.(PHOTOS: Mourning the Dear Leader)It wasn’t cold-hearted as much as an attempt to rein in the North. “Lee took a very tough line toward North Korea,” says Gi-Wook Shin, director of the Seoul-based Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. Shin likens the administrations’ differing policies to parents who take opposing disciplinary roles for the good of their child. “He has been playing the ‘bad cop’ role. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad.” Nevertheless, Lee’s approach has drawn its share of criticism. It was under his watch that Pyongyang’s worst provocations in recent North-South relations have taken place: the sinking of the South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors in March 2010, and, less than a year later, the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island that killed two soldiers and two civilians.Now that Kim is gone, Lee could seize the moment to smooth things over. A similar opportunity presented itself to Seoul in 1994, after the death of Kim’s father, longtime North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. The then South Korean president, Kim Young-sam, was scheduled to meet Kim Il Sung for a much-anticipated summit, but Kim Il Sung died of a sudden heart attack before the set date. Kim Young Sam “didn’t show any goodwill toward North Korea” after his death, says Shin, and that angered Pyongyang. On Tuesday Seoul sent condolences to Pyongyang and said some representatives, but not an official delegation, might go next week’s funeral. “This could be an opportunity for Lee to improve relations with North Korea,” says Shin, “if he wants to.”(MORE: Kim’s Death: Jitters in Northeast Asia)Should he want to? A conciliatory gesture would not go down well with Lee’s conservative base, and as South Korea enters an election year, it might be a political risk he and his party are unwilling to take. But there is also the larger question of whether closer ties necessarily guarantee any more stability, especially in a post-Kim era. Since his inauguration, Lee has emphasized that South Korea’s foreign policy should not be defined by its relations with the North, and has focused on strengthening ties with the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.After the Korean War, South Korea’s de facto foreign policy was anti-communist—ergo anti-North–for more than 20 years. There were moments when relations thawed, such as the planned summit in 1994, but things didn’t really change until the election of Kim Dae Jung in 1997 and the introduction of the sunshine policy. Wayne Patterson, a history professor at St. Norbert College in the U.S., sums up the thinking behind Kim Dae Jung’s rapprochement like this: “‘Maybe if we’re nice to North Korea, they’ll be nice back.’”They weren’t. Kim Dae Jung met with Kim Jong-il in 2000, a landmark summit that helped earn him a Nobel Peace Prize and for which, it later came out, Seoul gave about $500 million to Pyongyang. After the South and the U.S. started delivering food aid to the North, where a catastrophic famine had killed up to two million people in the 1990s, evidence began piling up that the North Korean military was skimming off a significant portion of the aid. Pyongyang would not allow international monitors in to verify that the food was going to the children and elderly citizens who needed it most. Meanwhile, the North continued to build up its nuclear arms program, testing its first nuclear weapon in 2006. (The second and last was in 2009.) “To cut to the bottom line, it didn’t work,” says Patterson. Kim Dae Jung’s successor Roh Moo Hyun continued the policy, but, notes Patterson, “North Korea did not modify its behavior.”(PHOTOS: Looking Back at Former President Kim Dae Jung)Many analysts question whether Kim Jong Un, Jong Il’s son and named successor, is ready to take the reins of his family dynasty after only a little over a year in the spotlight at his father’s side. “Nobody will really challenge him,” says Shin. “But that doesn’t mean that he’ll succeed.” If the young Kim and his advisers can’t keep their frail economy afloat, the nation could face an economic collapse—or even a revolt. “A popular uprising is very unlikely, but it’s not out of the question,” says Charles Armstrong, director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University “Nobody predicted the Arab Spring a year ago.”Given a crisis of that magnitude, Lee’s administration may not be able to resist gunning for a unified Korean peninsula. “Seoul is looking very carefully to see any signs of instability or change in North Korea following the death of Kim,” says Armstrong. The idea has loomed large in South Korea’s national psyche ever since the countries were split at the end of World War II, though today the notion’s popular support stems more from political correctness than real conviction that life would be better under unification. There are, after all, some clues as to what might await the South. When West Germany integrated East Germany, the cost of absorbing the poorer nation was enormous, says Patterson, and the wealth gap between South and North Korea is much larger than it was between East and West Germany.Still, the South Korean government is doing its best to keep unification relevant. Last year, it proposed a special tax that would set aside money to help pay for the cost of one day integrating the North into the domestic economy. Recently it launched an online television channel aimed at getting South Korea’s younger generation, for whom the war is distant history, thinking about reuniting with the North.But even those who publicly support the nostalgic concept of a unified Korean peninsula may privately question whether South Korea can handle it. “What would happen if 15 million starving, poor North Koreans flood into the border looking for jobs and homes?” Patterson says. “Can [they] actually do it?”Also, when it comes to erratic nuclear states, there is no such thing as a bilateral decision. Since 2003, South Korea has been joined by the U.S., Russia, China and Japan in the so-called Six Party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. Though the talks have been stalled since 2008, just days before Kim’s death, news emerged that a major announcement over U.S. food aid and Pyongyang’s cessation of uranium enrichment would soon be made. That’s now on ice—as is probably any chance of change between the Koreas.