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.]

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran

    Gorgeous Images of the Planet Jupiter

    In its 10th orbit around Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is returning amazing images of the gas giant that are being made even more incredible by citizen scientists here on Earth.

  • Geoff Robins / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Snowy Sahara, Dancing Devils, Cryptocurrency J-Pop

    The Singapore Zoo shows off its babies, ice blankets in the U.S., fog drifts in the U.K., Saudi Arabia opens its first automotive showroom solely for women, and much more.

  • Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty

    Photos of California's Deadly Mudslides

    Hillsides scorched by wildfires last month unleashed mudslides under heavy rainfall north of Los Angeles on Tuesday.

  • Bettmann / Getty

    50 Years Ago in Photos: A Look Back at 1968

    A half-century ago, much of the world appeared to be in a state of crisis, with protests around the world, the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy. But there was some progress to be found as well.

Join the Discussion