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North Koreans are in mourning after the announcement of North Korean leader Kim Jong-iI’s death. State media proclaim the 69 year old died of heart failure, following a heart attack on Saturday at 08:30 local time.
A period of national mourning will be held from the date of Kim’s death to December 29. The funeral is said to be held in Pyongyang on December 28.
“We should increase the country’s military capability in every way to reliably safeguard the Korean socialist system and the gains of revolution,” the National Funeral Committee said.
Korean news agency, KCNA, has stated that millions of North Korean citizens are in deep despair over their leaders death.
They reported “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.”
South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak put all members of South Korea’s military on emergency alert. South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that North Korea tested an unspecified number of short-range missiles on Monday morning.
Following an emergency Cabinet meeting Monday, Lee asked South Koreans to go about their normal business. “For the sake of the future of the Republic of Korea, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is more important than anything else. It should not be threatened by what has happened,” he said.
Kim Young-mok, South Korean consul in New York, said that Seoul’s top priority is to avoid “anything troublesome. I don’t think that North Korea can afford some provocation at this point, but we must make sure that everything is OK,” he said.
Kim Jong-il came into power following the death of his father in 1994. The following year, a three year famine struck the country for three years, killing more than 2 million people.
Kim reacted to the famine by commencing some limited economic reforms, including the jangmadang, or private markets for food and daily necessities that the state-run economy could no longer sufficiently provide. In 2000 he also stepped up diplomatic engagement, leading to the first inter-Korean summit.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson spoke about his reaction to the news. “North Korea, the peninsula is a tinderbox. The issue is, will there be stability in the North Korean leadership? Will they continue their recent efforts of engaging South Korea and the United States over food aid, over nuclear talks?”
The day following Kim’s funeral a separate “national meeting of mourning” will take place, with all North Koreans instructed to pay a three-minute silent tribute to Mr. Kim.