Kim Jong Il, 1942-2011

Early this morning, 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. [See also Inside North Korea from August, 2011.]

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