N. Korea calls Kim’s son ‘great successor’; funeral scheduled for Dec. 28
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il waves at a military parade to celebrate the 63rd founding anniversary of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Pyongyang in this Sept. 9, 2011 file photo. Kim, 69, died of a heart attack Saturday. / AFP-Yonhap
By Kim Young-jin
Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader who ruthlessly controlled his Stalinist nation and kept South Koreans on constant edge with his “military-first” politics, died of a heart attack Saturday. He was 69.
State TV announced in a “special broadcast” Monday that the mercurial leader passed away from “a severe myocardial infarction along with a heart attack,” and “great mental and physical strain,” while taking a train to an onsite visit.
Pyongyang’s media urged people to support Kim’s youngest son Jong-un, who remains virtually unknown to the outside world.
“At the vanguard of the Korean revolution stands Kim Jong-un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of juche [self reliance] and the outstanding leader of our party, military and people,” the official news agency said. “Kim Jong-un’s leadership will guarantee the completion of the revolutionary cause of juche through the generations after it was started by Kim Il-sung and led to victory by Kim Jong-il.”
An autopsy was conducted Sunday, said a weeping female newscaster clad in black.
The entire nation “should faithfully follow comrade Kim Jong-un’s leadership and protect and bolster the unified front of the party, military and the public,” the announcer said.
The news sent ripples through the South Korean public, who believed the North Korean leader to be in fair condition following a stroke in 2008, appearing vigorous in footage taken during recent trips to China and Russia. He was believed to have diabetes and heart disease.
President Lee Myung-bak swiftly ordered all government officials to be placed on emergency response status and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) placed all military units on emergency alert, underscoring the grave tensions the North Korean leader leaves behind. Lee also held emergency telephone talks with U.S. President Barack Obama to coordinate a joint response to the situation.
Kim Jong-il’s funeral will be held on Dec. 28 in Pyongyang.
Kim took power in 1994 after his own father, country founder Kim Il-sung, died.
He leaves behind a legacy of iron-fisted rule which relied heavily on militarism, brutal repression and an enormous personality cult built around him and his father.
Huge questions now remain about the future of 23 million North Koreans, a quarter of who, the United Nations recently said, were in dire need of food aid. Also of major concern is the country’s nuclear program that is believed to have stockpiled enough plutonium for around six nuclear bombs.
Kim, while drawing harsh criticism for a deplorable human rights record, will also be remembered as an enigmatic character the world knew precious little about.
Wearing his hair in a breezy pompadour and standing five foot two inches tall, Kim was not the intimidating physical presence his father was. He was said to be engaging in conversation, a film buff and to have a penchant for cognac and cigars.
According to official accounts that famously mythologize him, Kim was born on Mt. Baekdu, the highest peak on the peninsula in 1942. But Russian accounts say he was actually born in an army camp near Khabarovsk in the former Soviet Union, where his father, and mother, Kim Jong-suk, were fighting Japanese imperialism.
He was officially designated as his father’s successor in 1980. Since taking power Kim presided over an increasingly troubled country. The regime managed to survive a severe famine in the mid-1990s estimated to have killed hundreds of thousands.
In diplomacy, Kim wielded his nuclear program to win aid from nervous neighbors.
The leader’s death comes amid high tension between the Koreas after the North shelled Yeonpyeong Island, killing four, and torpedoed the Cheonan warship claiming 46 lives last year. The North has yet to apologize for the attacks.
He leaves his nation on the cusp of change. His regime had declared next year as when it would emerge as a strong and prosperous state and many expected he would accelerate transferring power to his son then.
Kim Jong-un, who emerged as heir-apparent when he was given four-star general status and a high party post last year, is believed to be around 28 and to have studied for a time in Switzerland.
The senior Kim is believed to have fathered two other sons and a daughter with multiple wives.
The news broke in dramatic fashion after state media announced it would make a special broadcast at noon.
北 `김정은 영도' 첫 언급…장의위 구성
금수산기념궁전 안치…외국조문단 안받기로
북한 김정일 국방위원장이 17일 오전 8시30분 급병으로 사망했다고 조선중앙통신 등 북한 매체들이 19일 일제히 보도했다. 향년 69세.
이로써 1998년 김일성 주석 사후 국방위원장으로 김정일 시대를 연 지 13년 만에, 1974년 후계자로 공식화된 지 37년 만에 김 위원장의 철권통치가 막을 내렸다.
북한 매체는 '전체 당원과 인민군 장병과 인민에게 고함'이란 제목의 발표문에서 "김정일 동지께서 주체 100(2011)년 12월17일 8시30분에 현지지도의 길에서 급병으로 서거했다"고 밝혔다.
이 발표문은 "우리는 김정은 동지의 영도따라 슬픔을 힘과 용기로 바꾸어 오늘의 난국을 이겨내 주체혁명의 위대한 새 승리를 위하여 더욱 억세게 투쟁해나가야 한다"고 강조해 앞으로 권력공백을 후계자 김정은 당 중앙군사위원회 부위원장이 막아 나갈 것임을 시사했다.
북한은 당 중앙위원회, 당 중앙군사위원회, 국방위원회, 최고인민회의 상임위, 내각 공동명의로 발표문을 발표했다.
중앙통신은 '김정일 동지의 질병과 서거원인에 대한 의학적 결론서'에서 "17일 달리는 야전열차 안에서 중증 급성 심근경색이 발생되고 심한 심장성 쇼크가 합병됐다"며 "발병 즉시 모든 구급치료대책을 세웠으나 17일 8시30분에 서거하셨다"고 밝혔다.
이어 "18일에 진행된 병리해부검사에서는 질병의 진단이 완전히 확정됐다"고 전했다.
북한은 김정은 당 중앙군사위 부위원장 등을 포함해 232명으로 장의위원회를 구성했으나 북한 매체는 김정은의 이름을 제일 먼저 호명해 사실상 위원장 역할을 할 것임을 시사했다.
장의위는 공보를 통해 김 위원장의 시신을 금수산기념궁전에 안치하고 28일 평양에서 영결식을 개최한다고 밝혔다.
장의위는 오는 29일까지를 애도기간으로 정하고 중앙추도대회는 29일 개최할 계획이지만 "외국의 조의대표단은 받지 않기로 한다"고 전했다.
이어 "애도기간에 전국의 모든 기관,기업소들에서 조의행사를 진행하며 평양시에서 중앙추도대회가 진행되는 시간에 각 도, 시, 군에서 추도식을 진행한다"며 "애도기간에 기관, 기업소에서는 조기를 띄우며 일체 가무와 유희, 오락을 하지 않도록 한다"고 알렸다. (연합)