North Korean news media announced Monday that its leader Kim Jong-il died of physical fatigue during train ride last Saturday at 8:30 a.m.. He was 69.
“Leader Kim died of physical and mental fatigue accumulated from his trip to on-site guidance in the train at 8:30 a.m.. Dec. 17,” the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said at noon Monday.
Kim, who took over North Korea after his father and national founder Kim Il-sung died in 1994, had been in ill heath after suffering an apparent stroke in 2008.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) placed all military units on emergency alert. Officials said they may raise the “Defcon,” a five-stage combat alert level, from its current level of four to three.
Cheong Wa Dae convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council over Kim’s death. President Lee Myung-bak ordered all government officials to be placed on emergency response status.
The North’s KCNA urged people to follow Kim’s youngest son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un, who is aged in his late 20s.
“All party members, military men and the public should faithfully follow the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-un and protect and further strengthen the unified front of the party, military and the public,” it said.
The news agency said Kim died of a “severe myocardial infarction along with a heart attack.” It said an autopsy was performed Sunday. A female newscaster, clad in a black funeral dress, tearfully announced Kim’s death on state TV.
The North declared a period of national mourning from Dec. 17 to 29. Kim’s funeral is set for Dec. 28 in Pyongyang.
Kim’s body will be placed in the Geumsusan Memorial Palace where the embalmed body of his father Kim Il-sung lies, according to the KCNA. (Korea Times)