With the death of Kim Jong-il the leader of North Korea the World has drawn a deep breath. Little is truly known of daily life in North Korea but such was the outpouring of grief by the country's people today, December 19, 2011, that it seems fair to assume he was idolised.
The cynic in each of us may prefer to believe that the people had little choice but to behave in this way. The country is a "closed shop" as far as western eyes go. North Korea has remained as secretive as ever and as fanatical. This view could be misplaced but that is the impression North Korea gives to the World.
The World and North Korea expects that Kim Jong-un, Jong-il's son, will take over at the helm of North Korea but there is nothing to say he will be any more relaxed, as far as the World stage goes. Today South Korean markets tumbled on the news that Kim Jong-il had died of heart failure, aged 69. South Korea may have had an uneasy peace with the North in recent years, and it seems that is better than uncertainty.
Kim Jong-un has accompanied his father on many internal trips, since his succession was announced in September 2010. His father had long followed a path of acquiring nuclear capabilities and it is perhaps telling that such a test has been carried out today. The report that North Korea carried out a short range missile test has not been officially recognised but it seems safe to assume that the news is correct.
There are also reports of potential difficulties with behind the scene in fighting and power struggles.
North Korean state TV announced the death stating that the, 'Dear Leader' died while travelling on a private train". Sky News reported that, It added he died of heart failure due to "great mental and physical strain" during a "high intensity field inspection".
The US White House issued a statement which said, "The president has been notified and we are in close touch with our allies in South Korea and Japan. "We remain committed to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies."
Kim Jong-il has been the country's leader since 1994, when he succeeded the role from his father. "Kim Jong-un has been announced by state media as 'The Great Successor'".