Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kim Jong Il - 1942-2011

North Korean state television reported the death of North Korea's longtime ruler Kim Jong Il. Kim reportedly died two days earlier, on Saturday, December 17, 2011, suffering a heart attack while riding on a train outside Pyongyang. 

The 69-year-old had been North Korea's "supreme leader" since 1994, after succeeding his father, Kim Il Sung, the founder of the communist state. Kim Jong Il presided over a long-suffering, isolated nation, antagonized the western world, indulged himself while millions starved, and funneled much of the country's meager funds into military spending and the pursuit of nuclear weapons. 

His nominal successor, son Kim Jong Un, remains untested and the sudden power vacuum in such an unpredictable nation has neighbors, allies, and enemies on edge. 

Collected here are images from the life and times of North Korea's Kim Jong Il, and a few recent images from the reclusive country and those who have noted his passing.

In this April 25, 2002 photo from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, leader Kim Jong Il salutes the people at the military parade by the Worker and Peasant Red Guard that celebrates the 90th anniversary of leader Kim Il Sung and the 70th anniversary of the North Korean People's Army. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP Images) 

A young Kim Jong Il, left, takes part in a souvenir picture during his childhood with his parents, Kim Jong Suk, right, and leader Kim Il Sung. (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)  

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