North Korea’s official government-controlled media announced that the country’s “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-Il, died on Saturday at age 69 from “physical and mental overwork.” A teary-eyed TV anchorwoman claimed, “It is the biggest loss by the party…and it is our people and nation’s biggest sadness…[but we must] change our sadness to strength and overcome our difficulties.”
Those “difficulties” can be traced back to at least the assumption of power by Kim Il-Sung in 1945 as he established a Stalinist totalitarian system in the country and enforced it with iron rule until his death in 1994. His son, Kim Jong-Il assumed the mantle of dictator after having been groomed for the position for years prior to his father’s death.
A “cult of personality” was firmly established by the “Eternal President” (a title given to Kim Il-Sung at his funeral service) and extended by his son: Portraits of them hang in every building and every North Korean wears a Kim Il Sung lapel pin.
North and South Korea are still officially at war following cessation of hostilities of the Korean War in 1953. The North, under the “Dear Leader’s” control, has continued provocations and militarization. In 1983, he ordered the bombing that killed 17 South Korean officials who were visiting Burma (now Myanmar), the bombing of a Korean Air Liner that killed 115 people in 1987, as well as other numerous provoca6tions.
He continued to press forward the country’s nuclear development, with its first test of a nuclear bomb in October 2006 followed by another in 2009. President Bush accurately described Kim in 2005 as a tyrant: “Kim Il-Jong is a dangerous person. He’s a man who starves his people. He’s got huge concentration camps. And…there is concern about his capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon.”