North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dies at 69
The veteran leader passed away on Saturday while he was visiting an area outside the capital, the report said.
Kim, according to the official account, died of a “severe myocardial infarction along with a heart attack.”
He experienced another stroke back in 2008 but appeared relatively energetic during his recent trips to China and Russia.
It is believed his third son, Kim Jong-Un, will take over the leadership position in the country.
“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,” the state-run television said.
Kim was at the center of a dispute with the US on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Kim, known in the communist country as the “Dear Leader”, died on Saturday aboard a train during a trip out of Pyongyang, the state-run KCNA news agency said on Monday.
“It is the biggest loss for the party … and it is our people and nation’s biggest sadness,” a tearful presenter said as she announced the death on state television.
The presenter also urged the country, people and military to “faithfully revere respectable comrade Kim Jong-un” — Kim’s third son and apparent heir.
“At the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-un, we have to change sadness to strength and courage and overcome today’s difficulties,” she said.
Kim Jong-il last year appointed Kim Jong-un to a number of high-ranking posts in moves seen as positioning him as his assumed successor after years of speculation about the elder Kim’s fading health.
Footage broadcast on CCTV, China’s main news agency, showed interviews with North Koreans barely able to contain their grief, while the tightly government-controlled KCNA described the entire nation as being in “indescribable sorrow”.
“I can’t believe it. How can he go like this? What are we supposed to do?” one woman in Pyongyang was quoted as saying.
The announcement of Kim’s death prompted South Korea to place its military on emergency alert, while shares on the stock market in Seoul fell amid uncertainty over the stability of the secretive nuclear-armed nation.
North Korea was later reported to have test-fired a short-range missile off its east coast, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
China, considered North Korea’s closest ally, said it was shocked to learn of Kim’s death.
“We hereby express our deep condolences on his demise and send sincere regards to the North Korean people,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Russia said it expected that Kim’s death would not affect “friendly relations” between Moscow and Pyongyang.
Kim was believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media.
But the leader, reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine, was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.
“Just a couple of days ago, it was publicized that he was visiting a military installation,” Don Kirk of the Christian Science Monitor told Al Jazeera.
“Obviously there will be a long period of public mourning in the country, but the sense is that at least he organized his succession with [his son] Kim Jong-un taking over,” he said.
An autopsy was performed on Sunday, and the North declared a period of national mourning from December 17 to 29. The KCNA news agency said that Kim’s funeral would take place on December 28.