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Video: North Korea’s Kim Jong Il dies at 69

  1. Closed captioning of: North Korea’s Kim Jong Il dies at 69

    >>> we begin now this breaking news, the death of north korean leader kim jong -il. andrea mitchell joins us now details on this. andrea, good morning.

    >> good morning, ann. although north korea 's dictator was ailing for years, his death was sudden, taking his people, the u.s., and north korea 's neighbors by surprise. president obama called south korea 's president at midnight. north korea fired several short-range missiles as well and the world is watching for possible instability during the transition of power to kim 's little-known and little-prepared younger son. early monday in north korea a tearful state tv announcer revealed kim jong -il died saturday while traveling on a train on a "field guidance tour." in south korea , people gathered in public places to watch coverage of kim 's death. meanwhile south korean president lee myung bak convened an emergency meeting asking military leaders to stay on alert. the white house also released a statement saying "we remain committed to stability on the korean peninsula and to the freedom and security of our allies." kim 's north korea was isolated and unpredictable and often seen more like a cult than a country. at times bizarre but also dangerous, impoverishing and enslaving his own people, while arming himself with nuclear weapons and threatening to annihilate his dictator. it was easy to make fun of his hairdo and cocktails, he was a fan of fast cars, and fine foods. diplomats describe kim as shrewd, calculating, well practiced at the use of frets and force to win aid and successfully fending's you have efforts to rein in his nuclear weapons program . madeleine albright on her visit to north korea , the first ever by an american official. when asked if kim could be trusted albright replied --

    >> i just can assure you that these glasses that i have on are not rose colored.

    >> reporter: in 2009 when laura ling and euna lee were chargarrested and charged, former president clinton secured the journalists' release. kim jong -il called his people sunflowers of loyalty they suffereder it fwli, hundreds of thousands dying of starvation, a network of brutal prison camps housing those who questioned his rule or tried to escape from it. he inherited the job in 1994 from kim il -sung, who though dead remains eternally present to his people. as kim jong -il's health began to fail his featured ravaged by one stroke in 2008 . he grouped his younger son, kim jong -un to take over. a patrol boat was torpedoed, an island was shelled near the border. pyongyang revealed a large uranium enrichment facility, to prop up his son perhaps, who had few leader authorities. u.s. diplomats were in beijing to meet with north korean counterparts to give them food aid and announce nuclear disarmament talks. there was hope pyongyang would finally suspend its uranium enrichment program. there are concerns the north will try to provoke another incident while the new leader or the military try to take over.

    >> let's talk about that first of all. we heard this word about at least one short range missile being fired, this report, also asian markets plunged this morning on the news and south korea 's military went on high alert. so what is the risk of greater instability in the region at least in the short term?

    >> i think there is tremendous risk, not only short term but long-term because this is a young, untested leader. the military is going to try to weigh in and have its way, have its say with this young man. he is not prepared by all accounts, very little is known about him but he is young, and he's only had a couple of years being groomed for this, and north korea has always used force and the threats of force to try to show its strength, when it is weakest and right now is a very, very troubling time and it is clear that south korea and japan as well as the united states are going to be on alert.

    >> we were looking at videotape now showing just how young this son, the great successor is. is it possible there will be a power struggle in north korea ?

    >> it is possible. the military long viewed him with suspicion. there were several sons. this was the personal choice of the leader, of his father but there is no indication he has been able in these short years to get any kind of respect from the military. he was immediately promoted to four-star status a few years ago as, in the aftermath of the 2008 stroke, where his father realized how ill he was. he was only 69 and as we say this was a surprise, even though you could see from his physical stature shrinking that he was quite ill. the other possibility here, of course, is that you're going to see a resumption and expansion of the uranium enrichment program rather than what had been hoped was finally going to be some agreement.

    >> so is there a balancing act this morning for the president in how president obama and how he reacts then to this news, given all of these issues you just pointed out?

    >> yes, i think it's very clear they're not going to show any kind of military concern, they're not going to do anything obviously to go on alert. that is for south korea and the immediate neighbors to do. of course, one concern would be economic, would be refugees coming, not only to south korea , but also into china. china is going to be the main influence here as it always has been, when it chooses to, china can be a huge force for calm in the region, and china is now going to be the one that all of the neighbors as well as the united states , turns to, to exert some control on this transition in north korea .

    >> we'll watch and see what china also does. andrea mitchell , thank you so much.

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 12/19/2011 8:08:50 AM ET 2011-12-19T13:08:50

Kim Jong Il, North Korea's longtime dictator who allowed his people to starve while building a vast military, has died of heart failure. His death sparked immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program.

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Citing YTN TV, Reuters also reported that North Korea test-fired a short-range missile off the country's east coast on Monday.

A "special broadcast" from the North Korean capital, state media said the 69-year-old died of a heart ailment on a train due to a "great mental and physical strain" on Saturday during a "high intensity field inspection." It said an autopsy was completed on Sunday and "fully confirmed" the diagnosis.

A spokesperson at the Unification Ministry confirmed Kim's death to NBC News. His funeral will be held on December 28.

Video: What Kim Jong Il's death means for region (on this page)

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.

The communist 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.

"It is the biggest loss for the party ... and it is our people and nation's biggest sadness," an anchorwoman clad in black Korean traditional dress said in a voice choked with tears. She said the nation must "change our sadness to strength and overcome our difficulties."

PhotoBlog: Recent images of Kim Jong Il

Mindful of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs and 1.2 million-strong armed forces, South Korea put its military on alert. President Lee Myung-bak also convened a national security council meeting after the news of Kim's death.

Kim Jong Un, Kim's youngest son, was named by North Korea's official news agency KCNA as the "great successor" to his father , which lauded him as "the outstanding leader of our party, army and people."

Video from Chinese state television showed residents of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, weeping while KCNA reported people were "writhing in pain" from the loss.

President Barack Obama was monitoring reports of the death of the North Korean leader, the White House said Sunday night, adding that U.S. officials were in contact with allies in South Korea and Japan.

"We remain committed to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies," the White House said in a statement.

Video: Even in death, details of Kim Jong Il's life elusive (on this page)

In Japan, the government said in a statement on Monday that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told ministers and officials to boost information gathering on the future of North Korea and to be ready for the unexpected, Reuters reported.

Kim Jong Il inherited power after his father, revered North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, died in 1994. In September 2010, Kim Jong Il introduced his third son, the 20-something Kim Jong Un, as his successor, putting him in high-ranking posts.

'Formalized grief'
Jim Hoare, a British former diplomat who served in North Korea after the countries established relations in 2000, told Sky News that Kim's death left considerable uncertainty.

"Nobody can be sure what change will be like," he said. "We don't really know who has power, who doesn't have power. We're always guessing."

Hoare said that television footage showing emotional North Koreans could be seen as "formalized grief."

"This is what people expect to do on a sad occasion," he added. "Whether they genuinely feel it, I don't know."

Asian stock markets sank Monday amid the news, which raises the possibility of increased instability on the divided Korean peninsula.

Slideshow: Daily life in North Korea (on this page)

South Korea's Kospi index dived 4.1 percent but later recouped some losses to trade 3.4 percent lower at 1,777.64 by early afternoon. The Korean won fell 1.6 percent against the U.S. dollar, a traditional haven in times of uncertainty. The Japanese yen and euro also weakened against the dollar.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index was down 1.1 percent at 8,308.42, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid 2.2 percent to 17,890.13 and the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.6 percent to 2,188.39.

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."

Birth heralded by rainbows
North Korean legend has it that Kim was born on Mount Paektu, 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 Il Sung, who for years fought for independence from Korea's colonial ruler, Japan, from a base in Russia, emerged as a communist leader after returning to Korea in 1945 after Japan was defeated in World War II.

With the peninsula divided between the Soviet-administered north and the U.S.-administered south, Kim rose to power as North Korea's first leader in 1948 while Syngman Rhee became South Korea's first president.

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The North invaded the South in 1950, sparking a war that would last three years, kill millions of civilians and leave the peninsula divided by a Demilitarized Zone that today remains one of the world's most heavily fortified. The Korean peninsula remains technically in a state of war more than 50 years after the Cold War-era armed conflict ended in a cease-fire.

In the North, Kim Il Sung meshed Stalinist ideology with a cult of personality that encompassed him and his son. Their portraits hang in every building in North Korea and on the lapels of every dutiful North Korean.

Kim Jong Il, a graduate of Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung University, was 33 when his father anointed him his eventual successor.

Even before he took over as leader, there were signs the younger Kim would maintain — and perhaps exceed — his father's hard-line stance.

South Korea has accused Kim of masterminding a 1983 bombing that killed 17 South Korean officials visiting Burma, now known as Myanmar. In 1987, the bombing of a Korean Air Flight killed all 115 people on board; a North Korean agent who confessed to planting the device said Kim ordered the downing of the plane himself.

Video: Haass: Kim Jong Il was 'tactically brilliant' (on this page)

Kim Jong Il took over after his father died in 1994, eventually taking the posts of chairman of the National Defense 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."

Despite scarce resources, always 'military first'
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.

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. Another test came in 2009, prompting U.N. sanctions.

Alarmed, regional leaders negotiated a disarmament-for-aid pact that the North signed in 2007 and began implementing later that year.

Slideshow: The life and death of Kim Jong Il (on this page)

However, the process continues to be stalled, even as diplomats work to restart negotiations.

North Korea, long hampered by sanctions and unable to feed its own people, is desperate for aid. Flooding in the 1990s that destroyed the largely mountainous country's arable land left millions hungry.

Following the famine, the number of North Koreans fleeing the country through China rose dramatically, with many telling tales of hunger, political persecution and rights abuses that officials in Pyongyang emphatically denied.

Kim often blamed the U.S. for his country's troubles and his regime routinely derides Washington-allied South Korea as a "puppet" of the Western superpower.

Video: Power struggle between party, military in store for North Korea? (on this page)

President George W. Bush, taking office in 2002, denounced North Korea as a member of an "axis of evil" that also included Iran and Iraq. He later described Kim as a "tyrant" who starved his people so he could build nuclear weapons.

"Look, Kim Jong Il is a dangerous person. He's a man who starves his people. He's got huge concentration camps. And ... there is concern about his capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon," Bush said in 2005.

Defectors from North Korea described Kim as an eloquent and tireless orator, primarily to the military units that form the base of his support.

The world's best glimpse of the man was in 2000, when the liberal South Korean government's conciliatory "sunshine" policy toward the North culminated in the first-ever summit between the two Koreas and followed with unprecedented inter-Korean cooperation.

Slideshow: Journey into North Korea (on this page)

A second summit was held in 2007 with South Korea's Roh Moo-hyun.

But the thaw in relations drew to a halt in early 2008 when conservative President Lee took office in Seoul pledging to come down hard on communist North Korea.

Disputing accounts that Kim was "peculiar," former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright characterized Kim as intelligent and well-informed, saying the two had wide-ranging discussions during her visits to Pyongyang when Bill Clinton was U.S. president.

"I found him very much on top of his brief," she said.

Jumpsuits, sunglasses
Kim cut a distinctive, if oft-ridiculed, figure. Short and pudgy at 5-foot-3, he wore platform shoes and sported a permed bouffant.

His trademark attire of jumpsuits and sunglasses was mocked in such films as "Team America: World Police," a movie populated by puppets that was released in 2004.

Kim was said to have cultivated wide interests, including professional basketball, cars and foreign films. He reportedly produced several North Korean films as well, mostly historical epics with an ideological tinge.

Interactive: Meet North Korea’s first family (on this page)

A South Korean film director claimed Kim even kidnapped him and his movie star wife in the late 1970s, spiriting them back to North Korea to make movies for him for a decade before they managed to escape from their North Korean agents during a trip to Austria.

Kim rarely traveled abroad and then only by train because of an alleged fear of flying, once heading all the way by luxury rail car to Moscow, indulging in his taste for fine food along the way.

Lived in luxury
One account of Kim's lavish lifestyle came from Konstantin Pulikovsky, a former Russian presidential envoy who wrote the book "The Orient Express" about Kim's train trip through Russia in July and August 2001.

Pulikovsky, who accompanied the North Korean leader, said Kim's 16-car private train was stocked with crates of French wine. Live lobsters were delivered in advance to stations.

A Japanese cook later claimed he was Kim's personal sushi chef for a decade, writing that Kim had a wine cellar stocked with 10,000 bottles, and that, in addition to sushi, Kim ate shark's fin soup — a rare delicacy — weekly.

"His banquets often started at midnight and lasted until morning. The longest lasted for four days," the chef, who goes by the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto, was quoted as saying.

Kim is believed to have curbed his indulgent ways in recent years and looked slimmer in more recent video footage aired by North Korea's state-run broadcaster.

Slideshow: The life of Kim Jong ll (on this page)

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.

His eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, 38, is believed to have fallen out of favor with his father after he was caught trying to enter Japan on a fake passport in 2001 saying he wanted to visit Disney's Tokyo resort.

His two other sons by another woman, Kim Jong Chol and Kim Jong Un, are in their 20s. Their mother reportedly died several years ago.

The Associated Press, Reuters, NBC News' Julie Yoo and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Photos: Kim Jong Il through the years

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  1. Happy family

    Kim Jong Il as a child with his father Kim Il Sung and first wife Kim Jong Suk. (Noboru Hashimoto / Corbis Sygma) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Young student

    A1963 photo from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong Il when he was a student of Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. With his friends

    Kim Jong Il, second person from right, takes part of a souvenir picture with his friends in this undated photo. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Official business

    In his young days working at the Central Committee of WPK (Worker's Party of Korea). (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Training exercise

    Kim Jong Il leads the firearms training of the February 2nd National Sport Defense team members while he was working at the Central Committee of WPK (Worker's Party of Korea). (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Meeting with farmers

    Kim Jong Il talks with farmers when he was in the Central Committee, May 21, 1971. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Test drive

    Kim Jong Il takes a test drive of a play equipment combat plane in Taesong amusement park, Pyongyang in North Korea,Oct. 2, 1977. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Filmmaking

    Kim Jong Il gives advice at the shooting of "An Jung Geun Avenges Hirobumi Ito," a narrative film. (Korean Central News Agency via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Father and son

    Kim Jong Il was anointed successor to his father, Kim Il Sung, in 1980. Known as the "Great Leader," Kim Il Sung and his son are shown attending a Korean Worker's Party convention in October of that year. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Family portrait

    Kim Jong Il, bottom left, poses memebers of his family in this 1981 photo in Pyongyang, North Korea. Sitting at right is his son, Jong-Nam, Kim's sister-in-law Sung Hye-Rang stands at top left with her daughter Lee Nam-Ok, center and son Lee Il-Nam, top right. While virtually nothing is known about the leader's personal life, an attempt by his first-born son Kim Jong Nam, bottom right, to enter Japan on a false passport in May, 2001, briefly shone a light onto his family's private dealings. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Applause please

    Kim Jong Il meets with Korean People's Army personnel in this Sept., 1988, photo. North Korea is believed to be the most heavily militarized country in the world on a per capita basis. (AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Like father, like son

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Il stands next to his father, Kim Il Sung, inspecting a football field in Pyongyang. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Silent famine

    Residents of Taziri, North Korea, wait for Red Cross food supplies in December 1995, not long after the death of Kim Il Sung left Kim Jong Il in control of the country. At the time, around 130,000 North Koreans were reportedly on the brink of famine and 500,000 were homeless. (Calvi Parisetti / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Kim looking at things

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Il inspects cucumbers harvested inside the 770th army base near Nyon Won power plant in Pyonan-Namdo. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Frenemies?

    South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, right, hugs North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at the end of their summit meeting at the airport in Pyongyang, North Korea. The two leaders held historic talks for three days in June 2000. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A visitor from Russia

    Kim Jong Il walks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, as he arrived in Pyongyang in July 2000 for talks on halting North Korea's missile-development program. (Itar-tass / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Toasting the U.S.

    Kim Jong Il toasts U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a dinner in Pyongyang in October 2000. The visit was part of an coordinated effort by Washington and its allies South Korea and Japan to end the country's isolation. (Chien-min Chung / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A giant leader

    A portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il displayed at an entrance of the foreign ministry in Pyongyang August 2002. (Shingo Ito / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Welcoming Japan

    Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, left, shakes hands with Kim Jong Il after signing a joint statement at the end of a one-day summit in Pyongyang on Sept. 17, 2002. North Korea admitted to kidnapping Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s and using them to train spies. (AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Crowds in the square

    In January 2003, more than one million people gathered on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to hear political leaders hail North Korea's dramatic decision to withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Tearful goodbyes

    Emotional South Koreans bid farewell to their North Korean families following a brief reunion in July 2004. The families were separated by the border that was imposed after fighting ended in 1953. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. X marks the spot

    A South Korean protester holds a picture of Kim Jong Il marked with a cross during a rally in Seoul on July 7, 2006. Demonstrators denounced Pyongyang's test-firing of seven missiles. (Lee Jin-man / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Wining and dining

    South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun joins Kim Jong Il at a farewell lunch in Pyongyang on Oct. 4, 2007, after the two sides signed a pledge to seek a peace treaty to replace the 54-year-old cease-fire that ended the Korean War. With no treaty in place, the two countries technically are still at war. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Military matters

    Kim Jong Il visits a military unit in this picture released by North Korea's official news agency on Aug. 11, 2008. It was Kim's last public appearance before intelligence officials suggested he had fallen gravely ill. (KCNA / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. In the public eye again

    In this image taken from North Korea's KRT state television, Kim Jong II attends the first session of the Supreme People's Assembly on April 9, 2009, in Pyongyang. It was his first major public appearance since reportedly suffering a stroke in August 2008. (APTN) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Paying his respects

    A gaunt-looking Kim Jong Il, sitting center in the front row, is surrounded by high-ranking officials during a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of his father's death on July 8, 2009. Kim Il Sung, who founded North Korea, remains known as the country's"eternal president." (KCNA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Visit from Clinton

    Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, right, meets with Kim Jong Il, left front, in Pyongyang on Aug. 4, 2009. North Korea pardoned and released two detained U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, after the meeting. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Calling on a cotton farm

    Kim Jong Il inspects a cotton plant farm of the Korean People's Army's 1596 unit on Nov. 29, 2009. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Meet-and-greet

    Kim Jong Il waves as people including soldiers applaud during a visit to the construction site of the Kumyagang Army-People Power Station in South Hamgyong Province in an undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency in August, 2010. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. China visit

    Chinese President Hu Jintao, right, meets with Kim Jong Il in Changchun, in northeast China's Jilin province, on Aug. 27, 2010. (Ju Peng / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Likely heir

    North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il, seated at center in sunglasses, and his youngest son Kim Jong Un, seated at left, pose for a photo with the newly elected members of the central leadership body of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the participants in the WPK Conference, at the plaza of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang in this picture released by the North's KCNA news agency on Sept. 30, 2010. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il anointed his youngest son as successor this week, promoting him to senior political and military positions. (KCNA via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (2nd L) and his youngest son Kim Jong Un (3rd R from Kim Jong-il) visit the cemetery for Chinese soldiers who died during the 1950-53 Korean War in Hoechang County, North Korea, Oct. 26, 2010, in this picture released by North Korea's official KCNA news agency. (KCNA / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. North Korea leader Kim Jong Il, right, and his son Kim Jong Un attend a massive military parade to mark the 65th anniversary of the communist nation's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea on Oct. 10, 2010. 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. (Vincent Yu / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Pass in review

    Kim Jong Il attends a military parade to celebrate the 63rd founding anniversary of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Pyongyang on September 9, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A tearful announcer dressed in black announces the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong il on North Korean State Television on Dec. 19, 2011. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died on a train trip, state television reported on Monday, sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program. The announcer said the 69-year old had died on Saturday of physical and mental over-work on his way to give "field guidance". (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is seen inside a glass coffin as people pay their respects, Pyongyang, North Korea, on Dec. 20, 2011. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. ARCHIVES : KIM IL SUNG AND KIM JONG IL
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    Above: Slideshow (36) The life of Kim Jong ll - Kim Jong Il through the years
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    Slideshow (42) The life of Kim Jong ll - World reacts
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    Slideshow (30) The life and death of Kim Jong Il
  4. Image:
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    Slideshow (53) Journey into North Korea
  5. Elizabeth Dalziel / AP
    Slideshow (7) Daily life in North Korea

Interactive: Meet North Korea’s first family

The North Korean dictatorship established by Kim Il Sung after World War II was taken over by his son Kim Jong Il in the 1990s. Now, as Kim Jong Il’s health fails the power is apparently being formally handed to his eldest son Kim Jung Un. In addition, the Kim family holds dozens of powerful positions throughout the North Korean bureaucracy.

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