N. Korean ruler Kim Jong-Il dead at 69

File photo of North Korean senior party, army and state officials sit under a huge image of leader Kim Jong Il at a national meeting in Pyongyang. State television announced on Monday that Kim had died on Dec, 17.

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Kim Jong-Il, North Korea’s mercurial and enigmatic leader, has died. He was 69.

In a “special broadcast” Monday from the North Korean capital, state media said Kim died of a heart ailment on a train due to a “great mental and physical strain” on Dec. 17 during a “high intensity field inspection.” It said an autopsy was done on Dec. 18 and “fully confirmed” the diagnosis.

Kim is 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. …

Kim Jong Il inherited power after his father, revered North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung, died in 1994.

In September 2010, Kim Jong Il unveiled his third son, the twenty-something Kim Jong-Un, as his successor, putting him in high-ranking posts. [AFP reported that the broadcast announcing Kim Jong-Il’s death said the country should now follow Kim Jong-Un.]

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