North Korea’s ‘dear leader’ is dead. Kim Jong-Il has died aged 69 after suffering a heart attack while on a train. His death was announced on Monday by the country’s state media, who urged North Koreans to get behind the leader’s son and successor Kim Jong-un. In truth, despite signs of growing opposition to the ruling party, most North Koreans will have no choice but to show their support.
Although Kim Jong-Il’s health was known to be deteriorating following a stroke three years ago, there was still surprise at the suddenness of his death. He had been grooming Kim Jong-un to take over for some time, and had been slowly withdrawing from the limelight, prompting at times rumours that he might have already passed away.
Around the world, politicians will be keenly watching the situation to see what direction North Korea takes next. South Korea declared an emergency alert when news of Kim Jong-Il’s death broke, and officials in Japan, the US, the UK and Russia confirmed they were actively monitoring the situation.