A series of reports published yesterday by the Korean Central News Agency, a propagandist media outlet run by the repressive North Korean regime, shed light on the official response to the death of the country’s “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-il. According to KCNA, North Koreans reacted to the passing of their beloved despot Saturday night by weeping profusely and uniting around Mr. Kim’s chosen successor, his twentysomething son Kim Jong-un.
“His demise is the greatest loss to the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Korean revolution at the historic period when a landmark phase is opened for building a thriving socialist nation,” one KCNA report read. “The grief-stricken Korean people are, however, renewing their pledge to remain true to the leadership of Kim Jong-un by overcoming their sorrow and displaying fresh strength and courage.”
KCNA reports Mr. Kim’s death occurred due to “an advanced acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a serious heart shock” due to “great mental and physical strain caused by his uninterrupted field guidance tour for the building of a thriving nation.” Afterwards, KCNA reports an “endless stream of soldiers, working people and school youth and students” gathered to mourn at statues of Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung, and mosaics depicting Mr. Kim where they were “weeping bitterly out of self-reproach and regret that they failed to keep Kim Jong-il in good health despite the behests of the President.”
North Korea is the world’s last bastion of hard-line Communism and one of the original members of George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil.” The regime’s nuclear arsenal, repeated human rights violations against its own people and tense relationships with South Korea, Japan and the United States make it a primary diplomatic concern, but the ultrasecretive nature of the North Korean government has prevented American officials from gathering accurate intelligence on the country. As a result, Kim Jong-un is a major question mark with experts not even sure of his precise age, whether he will be able to maintain control, or if he might assert himself by making an attack on one of the regime’s many enemies.
Of course, according to KCNA, all is well. A report entitled “We Are Under Respected Kim Jong Un” said, ”Kim Jong Un’s leadership provides a sure guarantee for successfully carrying forward the revolutionary cause.” Another KCNA dispatch described Kim Jong Un as “another great person produced by Korea who is identical to Kim Jong Il.”
Video broadcast by North Korean television showed Mr. Kim lying in state surrounded by his son, rows of flowers and lines of soldiers. President Obama discussed the situation with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Sunday and top administration advisors including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spent yesterday talking with officials in the region.