Kim Jong-il dead, North Korea’s future uncertain
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is dead. State media reported the Dear Leader died on Saturday due to “great mental and physical strain” while on a “high-intensity field inspection.” Kim Jong-il was 69 years old.
News of Kim Jong-il’s death prompted a great outpouring of public grief, though North Koreans could hardly be expected to display any other kind of emotion in the tightly managed Stalinist state.
Kim’s son, the 20-something Kim Jong-un aka the Bright Leader, is the heir apparent. But the younger Kim is not secure in his power and the elder Kim’s death could result in a dangerous power vacuum in what is arguably the world’s most dangerous flashpoint and potentially embroil China and the US in a military confrontation in the Korean Peninsula.