Kim Jong Il — North Korea’s temperamental dictator — died over the weekend at the age of 69, the country’s state news agency confirmed Monday morning.
According to reports out of North Korea, Jong Il “passed away from great mental and physical strain” while riding a train on Saturday morning (Dec 17).
A separate news item reported that Kim, who had a stroke in 2008 but had appeared healthy recently, suffered an “advanced acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a serious heart shock.”
News reports state that his love of cigars, cognac and gourmet food led to heart disease and diabetes, and most likely, his death.
Just after midnight on Monday, the White House announced that President Barack Obama had spoken with South Korea President Lee-Myung-bak.
An official statement from the White House said, “The President reaffirmed the United States’ strong commitment to the stability of the Korean Peninsula and the security of our close ally, the Republic of Korea.”
Though Kim was admired as a man of almost superhuman talents by the local media in North Korea (one of the most isolated and impoverished countries in the world), the strange and barbaric leader, who came into power after his father Kim Il Sung‘s death in 1994, was widely mocked in other parts of the world, especially here in the United States.
Hilarious parodies on various U.S. comedy shows like “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live” regularly made fun of the bizarre leader, showing him as a self-obsessed, sociopathic, well-known film buff with up to 20,000 movies in his personal DVD collection, among other things.
As long predicted, the designated successor to Kim Jong Il’s throne will be his son Kim Jong Un, who is in his early 20s.
Analysts predict that due to the process of transitioning power from father to son is incomplete, Mr Kim’s death could bring about “very unstable times” in North Korea.