According to an Associated Press report, longtime and enigmatic North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. He was 69.
Kim topped Parade’s List of the World’s Top 10 Worst Dictators in 2011.
The news first broke on North Korean state television, where the anchors tearfully announced the leader’s death.
Kim reportedly suffered a stroke in 2008, but seemed to be in good health during recent diplomatic visits throughout Asia. While the leader is believed to have suffered from diabetes and heart disease, the exact cause of his death is unknown.
Kim was born in Vyatsoke, a city in the former Soviet Union, in 1941. His father commanded the first battalion of the Soviet 88th brigade, which was made up of Soviet and Chinese exiles. His official biographers claim Il his birth at “Baekdu Mountain” was foretold by a swallow, and heralded by the appearance of a double rainbow and a new star, according to Wikipedia.
He officially became the “Supreme Leader” of North Korea in 1998, four years after the death of his father. The North Korean people built a personality cult Kim, referring to him as “our dear father” and “our fearless leader.”
Though Kim is not required to stand for election for office, he is unanimously elected every year.
North Korea has a state controlled economy, and according to Wikipedia, has suffered famine and economic stagnation under Kim’s leadership.
The U.S. and North Korea have had shaky foreign relations, especially following a 1994 treaty where North Korea agreed to rid itself of its nuclear. However, in 2002, Kim’s government admitted to possessing nuclear weapons, citing security issues. In 2006, the country announced it had successfully created an underground nuclear test.
“We oppose the reactionary policies of the U.S. government but we do not oppose the American people. We want to have many good friends in the United States,” Kim said.
According to the New York Times, in September, Kim unveiled his third son, 20-something year old Kim Jong Un, as his successor.
Kim was known for being enigmatic. He reportedly has 17 palaces throughout North Korea, and was a fan of American basketball, to the point where former Secretary of State Madeiline Albright ended a diplomatic visit by presenting Il with a basketball signed by Michael Jordan.
During a psychological study of infamous dictators, Kim, along with Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein all shared the “Big Six” personality traits: sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid and schizotypal.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, Kim has $4 million deposited in banks across Europe, in the event he would have ever needed to flee North Korea.
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