North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dead

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Kim Jong Il, North Korea's leader since 1994, died Dec. 18, Korean state television reported this morning, Korean time.

The ruling Workers Party of Korea hailed Kim's son, Kim Jong Un, as "the great successor to the revolutionary cause," seeming to signal that he would take his father's place. Kim Jong Il himself assumed power in 1994 after the passing of of his father, Kim Il Sung.

Kim Jong Un was the first listed in the announcement of the 232-member funeral commission set up to deal with the formalities of Kim's passing.

Given the charged geopolitics of the region, it is unclear what Kim's passing means for North Korea's neighbors, as well as the United States, which has been involved in the region since the Korean War.

According to the White House, "President Obama spoke with [South] Korea President Lee Myung-bak to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula."

South Korea placed its military and all government officials on high alert following the announcement from the north, according to its official Yonhap News Agency.

Kim's death came on the eve of a flurry of diplomatic activities in the region, especially a planned bilateral meeting between the U.S. and North Korea in Beijing. There, according to a South Korean official quoted by Yonhap, the North was expected to announce that it would put a moratorium on its uranium enrichment program and allow UN inspectors into the country, in exchange for food aid.

That concession would have paved the way for a resumption in the long stalled six-party talks aimed at resolving the Korean nuclear issue.

The future of the talks now are uncertain.

Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor and former U.S. ambassador to the UN warned that "the situation could become very volatile" in and around the North.

Meanwhile, countries in the region, including China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia called for calm and restraint on behalf of all parties in the region.

Kim's funeral is set for December 28. A 10-day mourning period has been declared.

Photo: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il waves goodbye to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, after a meeting Aug. 24 in Buryatia, in eastern Siberia. The meeting focused on energy deals, economic aid and nuclear disarmament. (Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/AP)

 

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  • A nation that keeps the head of their government under the same family with no noticeable democratic method of selecting said leader cannot call itself a Republic. Instead that family has gained a sense of hubris that can only be given to a monarchy. Socialism can certainly not survive under a monarchy. It needs the people of that nation to be intimately involved with its government. Making the former leader of a political party, after death, the head of the government is certainly no way for the people of that country to gain anything but a sense that the Kim family is nothing short of god like in their power. This is just total madness.

    Posted by Dave, 01/11/2012 2:55am (2 years ago)

  • The Worker's Party Of Korea does not have "good intentions," they're one of the worst regimes in the world. It makes perfect sense to do our best to ignore the histrionics and hatred the US government and corporate media have for North Korea. Capitalist hatred of North Korea, like Cuba, stems from its successful resistance from being integrated into the global capitalist system. However, we can't blind ourselves to the real abuses of the NK govt. Independent worker unions are not allowed, workers have even fewer rights than they do in capitalist sweat shops. Citizens have no political or economic rights (I mean that from a left viewpoint). They have one of the biggest armies in the world despite their small size, which despite their enemies, does more harm than conceivable good. You can't blame everything on their powers external to the NK govt, as much as isolation by capitalists has made things worse.

    CPUSA and so many of our comrades on the left made themselves a mockery and irrelevant by refusing to criticize Stalin for so long, lets not make the same mistake with the ruling regime in North Korea.

    Posted by Calvin, 01/03/2012 6:18am (2 years ago)

  • Why has autarky become a bad word and anyone who practices it or strives to practice it is vilified? Globalization is responsible for all of the world’s problems. Famine can happen anywhere. What’s the solution to a famine? Sending them McDonald’s burgers? Or sending them seeds they can use to grow their own food and agricultural consultants to train them? We need to view the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from a neutral and impartial point of view. The Workers’ Party of Korea and their ideology of Juche appear to have good intentions even if their policies are not perfectly executed.

    Posted by Alexander Layko, 12/29/2011 11:25pm (2 years ago)

  • We can take some pride in knowing that this administration is at least trying to stem the hostilities since the Korean war-- which has never officially ended.

    Let's hope that the process of evolution here in the U.S. and in North Korea towards mutual existence will grow.

    wage peace

    Posted by Gabriel Falsetta, 12/20/2011 12:26pm (2 years ago)

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