Kim Jong-il

1941 - 2011

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Kim Jong Il (; Korean: 김정일; Korean pronunciation: [kim.dzɔŋ.il]; also transcribed as Kim Jong-il and born Yuri Irsenovich Kim; 16 February 1941 or 1942 – 17 December 2011) was a North Korean politician who was the second supreme leader of North Korea. He led North Korea from the death of his father Kim Il Sung in 1994 until his own death in 2011, when he was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong Un. Afterwards, Kim Jong Il was declared Eternal General Secretary of the WPK. In the early 1980s, Kim had become the heir apparent for the leadership of North Korea, thus being established the Kim dynasty, and he assumed important posts in party and army organs. Kim succeeded his father and founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, following his death in 1994. Kim was the General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), WPK Presidium, Chairman of the National Defence Commission (NDC) of North Korea and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army (KPA), the fourth-largest standing army in the world. Kim ruled North Korea as a repressive and totalitarian dictatorship. Kim assumed leadership during a period of catastrophic economic crisis amidst the dissolution of the Soviet Union, on which it was heavily dependent for trade in food and other supplies, which brought a famine. While the famine had ended by the late 1990s, food scarcity continued to be a problem throughout his tenure. Kim strengthened the role of the military by his Songun ("military-first") policies, making the army the central organizer of civil society. Kim's rule also saw tentative economic reforms, including the opening of the Kaesong Industrial Park in 2003. In April 2009, North Korea's constitution was amended to refer to him and his successors as the "supreme leader of the DPRK". The most common colloquial title given to Kim during his lifetime was "Dear Leader" to distinguish him from his father Kim Il Sung, the "Great Leader". Following Kim's failure to appear at important public events in 2008, foreign observers assumed that Kim had either fallen seriously ill or died. On 19 December 2011, the North Korean government announced that he had died two days earlier, whereupon his third son, Kim Jong Un, was promoted to a senior position in the ruling WPK and succeeded him. After his death, alongside "Eternal General Secretary" of the WPK, Kim Jong Il was declared "Eternal Chairman" of the now defunct National Defence Commission, in keeping with the tradition of establishing eternal posts for the dead members of the Kim dynasty. North Korean media also began referring to Kim as "the General" (Changun), similar to his father's posthumous designation as "the [eternal] President". Source: Wikipedia (en)

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