Información

Muerte de Kim Jong Il


El dictador norcoreano Kim Jong Il murió el 17 de diciembre de 2011 de un ataque al corazón, tomando al mundo por sorpresa. ABC News informa al día siguiente sobre las preocupaciones de la comunidad internacional sobre la transferencia de liderazgo al hijo de 28 años de Kim.


Contenido

Nacimiento

Se desconoce el lugar exacto de nacimiento de Kim Jong-il. Los registros soviéticos muestran que Kim nació como Yuri Irsenovich Kim (en ruso: Юрий Ирсенович Ким). [6] [7] [8] En la literatura, se supone que nació en 1941 en el campo de Vyatskoye, cerca de Khabarovsk, [9] o en el campo de Voroshilov, cerca de Nikolsk. [10] Según Lim Jae-Cheon, Kim no puede haber nacido en Vyatskoye ya que los registros de guerra de Kim Il-sung muestran que llegó a Vyatskoye solo en julio de 1942 y había estado viviendo en Voroshilov antes. [11] La madre de Kim, Kim Jong-suk, fue la primera esposa de Kim Il-sung. Dentro de su familia, fue apodado "Yura", mientras que su hermano menor Kim Man-il (nacido como Alexander Irsenovich Kim) fue apodado "Shura".

Sin embargo, la biografía oficial de Kim dice que nació en un campamento militar secreto en la montaña Paektu (en coreano: 백두산 밀영 고향집 Baekdusan Miryeong Gohyang jip) en la Corea ocupada por los japoneses el 16 de febrero de 1942. [12] Según un camarada de la madre de Kim, Lee Min, la noticia del nacimiento de Kim llegó por primera vez a un campamento militar en Vyatskoye por radio y que tanto Kim como su madre no regresaron allí hasta el año siguiente. [13] [14] Los informes indican que su madre murió al dar a luz en 1949. [15]

En 1945, Kim tenía cuatro años cuando terminó la Segunda Guerra Mundial y Corea recuperó la independencia de Japón. Su padre regresó a Pyongyang en septiembre y, a fines de noviembre, Kim regresó a Corea en un barco soviético y aterrizó en Sonbong. La familia se mudó a la mansión de un ex oficial japonés en Pyongyang, con jardín y piscina. El hermano de Kim se ahogó allí en 1948. [16]

Educación

Según su biografía oficial, Kim completó el curso de educación general entre septiembre de 1950 y agosto de 1960. Asistió a la escuela primaria n. ° 4 y a la secundaria n. ° 1 (escuela secundaria superior Namsan) en Pyongyang. [17] [18] Esto es cuestionado por académicos extranjeros, quienes creen que es más probable que haya recibido su educación temprana en la República Popular China como medida de precaución para garantizar su seguridad durante la Guerra de Corea. [19]

A lo largo de su educación, Kim estuvo involucrado en política. Participó activamente en la Unión de Niños de Corea y la Liga de la Juventud Democrática de Corea del Norte (DYL), participando en grupos de estudio de teoría política marxista y otra literatura. En septiembre de 1957 se convirtió en vicepresidente de la rama DYL de su escuela secundaria (el presidente tenía que ser profesor). Siguió un programa de antifaccionalismo e intentó fomentar una mayor educación ideológica entre sus compañeros de clase. [20]

También se dice que Kim recibió educación en inglés en Malta a principios de la década de 1970 [21] [22] en sus infrecuentes vacaciones allí como invitado del primer ministro Dom Mintoff. [23]

Mientras tanto, el mayor de los Kim se había vuelto a casar y tenía otro hijo, Kim Pyong-il. Desde 1988, Kim Pyong-il ha servido en una serie de embajadas de Corea del Norte en Europa y fue embajador de Corea del Norte en Polonia. Los comentaristas extranjeros sospechan que Kim Pyong-il fue enviado a estos puestos distantes por su padre para evitar una lucha de poder entre sus dos hijos. [24]

Cuando se celebró el Sexto Congreso del Partido en octubre de 1980, el control de Kim sobre la operación del Partido estaba completo. Se le asignaron altos cargos en el Presidium, la Comisión Militar y la Secretaría del partido. Según su biografía oficial, el Comité Central del WPK ya lo había ungido sucesor de Kim Il-sung en febrero de 1974. Cuando fue nombrado miembro de la Séptima Asamblea Popular Suprema en febrero de 1982, los observadores internacionales lo consideraron el heredero aparente de Corea del Norte. . Antes de 1980, no tenía un perfil público y solo se le conocía como el "Centro del Partido". [25]

En ese momento, Kim asumió el título de "Estimado líder" (en coreano: 친애 하는 지도자 MR: ch'inaehanŭn jidoja), [26] el gobierno comenzó a construir un culto a la personalidad a su alrededor siguiendo el modelo de su padre, el "Gran Líder". Los medios de comunicación aclamaban regularmente a Kim como el "líder intrépido" y "el gran sucesor de la causa revolucionaria". Emergió como la figura más poderosa detrás de su padre en Corea del Norte.

El 24 de diciembre de 1991, Kim también fue nombrado Comandante Supremo del Ejército Popular de Corea. [27] El ministro de Defensa, Oh Jin-wu, uno de los subordinados más leales de Kim Il-sung, diseñó la aceptación de Kim por parte del Ejército como el próximo líder de Corea del Norte, a pesar de su falta de servicio militar. El único otro candidato posible al liderazgo, el primer ministro Kim Il (sin relación), fue destituido de sus cargos en 1976. En 1992, Kim Il-sung declaró públicamente que su hijo estaba a cargo de todos los asuntos internos de la República Popular Democrática.

En 1992, las transmisiones de radio comenzaron a referirse a él como el "Querido Padre", en lugar del "Querido Líder", sugiriendo un ascenso. Su 50 cumpleaños en febrero fue ocasión de celebraciones masivas, solo superadas por las del 80 cumpleaños del propio Kim Il-sung el 15 de abril de ese mismo año.

Según el desertor Hwang Jang-yop, el sistema de gobierno de Corea del Norte se volvió aún más centralizado y autocrático durante las décadas de 1980 y 1990 con Kim que con su padre. En un ejemplo explicado por Hwang, aunque Kim Il-sung exigió que sus ministros le fueran leales, no obstante, y con frecuencia buscó su consejo durante la toma de decisiones. En contraste, Kim Jong-il exigió absoluta obediencia y acuerdo de sus ministros y funcionarios del partido sin consejo ni compromiso, y consideró cualquier desviación leve de su pensamiento como una señal de deslealtad. Según Hwang, Kim Jong-il dirigió personalmente incluso los detalles menores de los asuntos estatales, como el tamaño de las casas para los secretarios del partido y la entrega de obsequios a sus subordinados. [28]

En la década de 1980, Corea del Norte comenzó a experimentar un severo estancamiento económico. La política de Kim Il-sung de Juche (autosuficiencia) aisló al país de casi todo el comercio exterior, incluso con sus socios tradicionales, la Unión Soviética y China. Corea del Sur acusó a Kim de ordenar el atentado de 1983 en Rangún, Birmania, que mató a 17 funcionarios surcoreanos visitantes, incluidos cuatro miembros del gabinete, y otro en 1987 que mató a los 115 a bordo del vuelo 858 de Korean Air. [29] Un agente norcoreano, Kim Hyon Hui, confesó haber colocado una bomba en el caso del segundo, diciendo que la operación fue ordenada personalmente por Kim. [30]

En 1992, Kim pronunció su primer discurso público durante un desfile militar por el 60º aniversario del Ejército Popular de Corea y dijo: [31] "¡Gloria a los oficiales y soldados del heroico Ejército Popular de Corea!". [32] Estas palabras fueron seguidas por un fuerte aplauso de la multitud en la plaza Kim Il-sung de Pyongyang, donde se llevó a cabo el desfile.

Kim fue nombrado presidente de la Comisión de Defensa Nacional el 9 de abril de 1993, [33] lo que lo convirtió en el comandante cotidiano de las fuerzas armadas.

El 8 de julio de 1994, Kim Il-sung murió a la edad de 82 años de un ataque al corazón. [34] Aunque Kim Jong-il había sido el sucesor designado de su padre en 1974, [35] nombrado comandante en jefe en 1991, [36] y se convirtió en Líder Supremo tras la muerte de su padre, [37] hora de consolidar su poder.

Asumió oficialmente el antiguo cargo de su padre como Secretario General del Partido de los Trabajadores de Corea el 8 de octubre de 1997. [38] En 1998, fue reelegido como presidente de la Comisión de Defensa Nacional, y una enmienda constitucional declaró que ese cargo era " el cargo más alto del estado ". [39] También en 1998, la Asamblea Popular Suprema eliminó el cargo del presidente de la constitución y designó a Kim Il-sung como el "Presidente Eterno" del país para honrar su memoria para siempre. [40]

Oficialmente, Kim formaba parte de un triunvirato que encabezaba la rama ejecutiva del gobierno de Corea del Norte junto con el primer ministro Choe Yong-rim y el presidente del parlamento, Kim Yong-nam (sin relación). Kim estaba al mando de las fuerzas armadas, Choe Yong-rim dirigía el gobierno y se ocupaba de los asuntos internos y Kim Yong-nam se ocupaba de las relaciones exteriores. Sin embargo, en la práctica, Kim, como su padre antes que él, ejercía un control absoluto sobre el gobierno y el país. Aunque no estaba obligado a presentarse a las elecciones populares para sus cargos clave, fue elegido por unanimidad a la Asamblea Popular Suprema cada cinco años, en representación de una circunscripción militar, debido a sus capacidades simultáneas como comandante supremo del KPA y presidente de la NDC. [41]

Políticas económicas

Kim tenía una "reputación de ser casi cómicamente incompetente en cuestiones de gestión económica". [42] La economía de Corea del Norte luchó durante la década de 1990, principalmente debido a la mala gestión. Además, Corea del Norte experimentó graves inundaciones a mediados de la década de 1990, exacerbadas por la mala gestión de la tierra. [43] [44] [45] Esto, combinado con el hecho de que solo el 18% de Corea del Norte es tierra cultivable [46] y la incapacidad del país para importar los bienes necesarios para sostener la industria, [47] condujo a una hambruna severa y dejó a Corea del Norte económicamente devastada. Ante un país en decadencia, Kim adoptó una política de "Primero el ejército" para fortalecer el país y reforzar el régimen. [48] ​​A escala nacional, el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Japón reconoce que esto ha resultado en una tasa de crecimiento positiva para el país desde 1996, con la implementación de "prácticas económicas de mercado de tipo socialista históricas" en 2002, manteniendo al Norte a flote a pesar de una continua dependencia de la ayuda exterior para la alimentación. [49]

A raíz de la devastación de la década de 1990, el gobierno comenzó a aprobar formalmente algunas actividades de trueque y comercio a pequeña escala. Como observó Daniel Sneider, director asociado de investigación del Centro de Investigación de Asia y el Pacífico de la Universidad de Stanford, este coqueteo con el capitalismo fue "bastante limitado, pero, especialmente en comparación con el pasado, ahora hay mercados notables que crean la apariencia de un mercado libre". sistema". [50]

En 2002, Kim declaró que "el dinero debería ser capaz de medir el valor de todas las mercancías". [51] Estos gestos hacia la reforma económica reflejan acciones similares tomadas por Deng Xiaoping de China a fines de la década de 1980 y principios de la de 1990. Durante una rara visita en 2006, Kim expresó su admiración por el rápido progreso económico de China. [52]

Una devaluación fallida del won norcoreano en 2009, iniciada o aprobada por Kim personalmente, [42] provocó un breve caos económico y puso al descubierto la vulnerabilidad del tejido social del país frente a la crisis. [53]

Relaciones Extranjeras

Kim era conocido como un diplomático hábil y manipulador. [42] En 1998, el presidente de Corea del Sur, Kim Dae-jung, implementó la "Política del Sol" para mejorar las relaciones entre el Norte y el Sur y permitir a las empresas surcoreanas iniciar proyectos en el Norte. Kim anunció planes para importar y desarrollar nuevas tecnologías para desarrollar la incipiente industria de software de Corea del Norte. Como resultado de la nueva política, en 2003 se construyó el Parque Industrial Kaesong, justo al norte de la zona desmilitarizada. [54]

En 1994, Corea del Norte y Estados Unidos firmaron un Marco Acordado que fue diseñado para congelar y eventualmente desmantelar el programa de armas nucleares del Norte a cambio de ayuda para producir dos reactores nucleares generadores de energía y la garantía de que no sería invadido nuevamente. En 2000, después de una reunión con Madeleine Albright, acordó una moratoria sobre la construcción de misiles. [55] [56] En 2002, el gobierno de Kim admitió haber producido armas nucleares desde el acuerdo de 1994. El régimen de Kim argumentó que la producción secreta era necesaria por motivos de seguridad, citando la presencia de armas nucleares de propiedad de Estados Unidos en Corea del Sur y las nuevas tensiones con Estados Unidos bajo la presidencia de George W. Bush. [57] El 9 de octubre de 2006, la Agencia Central de Noticias de Corea del Norte anunció que había realizado con éxito una prueba nuclear subterránea. [58]

Culto de personalidad

Kim fue el centro de un elaborado culto a la personalidad heredado de su padre y fundador de la RPDC, Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-il fue a menudo el centro de atención durante la vida cotidiana en la RPDC. En su 60 cumpleaños (según su fecha oficial de nacimiento), se llevaron a cabo celebraciones masivas en todo el país con motivo de su Hwangap. [59] En 2010, los medios de comunicación de Corea del Norte informaron que la ropa distintiva de Kim había establecido tendencias de moda en todo el mundo. [60]

El punto de vista predominante es que la adhesión de la gente al culto a la personalidad de Kim fue únicamente por respeto a Kim Il-sung o por temor al castigo por no rendir homenaje. [61] Medios de comunicación y fuentes gubernamentales de fuera de Corea del Norte generalmente apoyan este punto de vista, [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] mientras que fuentes del gobierno de Corea del Norte afirman que se trataba de una auténtica adoración a los héroes. [67] La ​​canción "No Motherland Without You", cantada por el KPA State Merited Choir, fue creada especialmente para Kim en 1992 y se transmite con frecuencia por la radio y por altavoces en las calles de Pyongyang. [68]

Historial de derechos humanos

Según un informe de Human Rights Watch de 2004, el gobierno de Corea del Norte bajo Kim se encontraba "entre los gobiernos más represivos del mundo", con hasta 200.000 presos políticos según funcionarios estadounidenses y surcoreanos, sin libertad de prensa o religión, oposición política o educación igualitaria: "Prácticamente todos los aspectos de la vida política, social y económica están controlados por el gobierno". [69]

El gobierno de Kim fue acusado de "crímenes contra la humanidad" por su presunta culpabilidad de crear y prolongar la hambruna de los noventa. [43] [44] [70] Observadores externos lo han calificado de dictador y lo han acusado de violaciones de derechos humanos. [71]

Informes de 2008

En una edición de agosto de 2008 del Japanese Newsweekly Shūkan Gendai, El profesor de la Universidad de Waseda Toshimitsu Shigemura, una autoridad en la península de Corea, [72] afirmó que Kim murió de diabetes a finales de 2003 y había sido reemplazado en apariciones públicas por uno o más suplentes empleados previamente para protegerlo de intentos de asesinato. [73] En un libro más vendido posterior, El verdadero carácter de Kim Jong-il, Shigemura citó a personas aparentemente anónimas cercanas a la familia de Kim junto con fuentes de inteligencia japonesas y surcoreanas, afirmando que confirmaron que la diabetes de Kim empeoró a principios de 2000 y desde entonces hasta su supuesta muerte, tres años y medio después, estaba usando un silla de ruedas. Además, Shigemura afirmó que un análisis de la huella de voz de Kim hablando en 2004 no coincidía con una grabación anterior conocida. También se señaló que Kim no apareció en público para el relevo de la antorcha olímpica en Pyongyang el 28 de abril de 2008. Según los informes, la pregunta había "desconcertado a las agencias de inteligencia extranjeras durante años". [74]

El 9 de septiembre de 2008, varias fuentes informaron que después de que no se presentara ese día para un desfile militar que celebraba el 60 aniversario de Corea del Norte, las agencias de inteligencia de Estados Unidos creían que Kim podría estar "gravemente enfermo" después de haber sufrido un derrame cerebral. Había sido visto en público por última vez un mes antes. [75]

Un exfuncionario de la CIA dijo que los informes anteriores sobre una crisis de salud probablemente eran precisos. Los medios de comunicación norcoreanos guardaron silencio sobre el tema. Un informe de Associated Press dijo que los analistas creían que Kim había estado apoyando a los moderados en el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, mientras que el poderoso ejército de Corea del Norte estaba en contra de las llamadas negociaciones de "seis partes" con China, Japón, Rusia, Corea del Sur y Estados Unidos destinadas a librar al Norte. Corea de las armas nucleares. Algunos funcionarios estadounidenses señalaron que poco después de que se hicieran públicos los rumores sobre la salud de Kim un mes antes, Corea del Norte había adoptado una "línea más dura en las negociaciones nucleares". A finales de agosto, la agencia oficial de noticias de Corea del Norte informó que el gobierno "consideraría pronto un paso para restaurar las instalaciones nucleares en Nyongbyon a su estado original, como lo solicitaron enérgicamente sus instituciones pertinentes". Los analistas dijeron que esto significaba que "los militares pueden haber tomado la delantera y que Kim podría no estar ejerciendo una autoridad absoluta". Para el 10 de septiembre, hubo informes contradictorios. Funcionarios del gobierno de Corea del Sur no identificados dijeron que Kim se había sometido a una cirugía después de sufrir un derrame cerebral leve y que aparentemente "tenía la intención de asistir al evento del 9 de septiembre por la tarde, pero decidió no hacerlo debido a las secuelas de la cirugía". El funcionario de alto rango de Corea del Norte, Kim Yong-nam, dijo: "Si bien queríamos celebrar el 60 aniversario del país con el secretario general Kim Jong-Il, lo celebramos por nuestra cuenta". Song Il-Ho, embajador de Corea del Norte, dijo: "Vemos esos informes no solo como inútiles, sino como un complot de conspiración". Seúl Chosun Ilbo El periódico informó que "la embajada de Corea del Sur en Beijing había recibido un informe de inteligencia de que Kim se derrumbó el 22 de agosto". [76] Los New York Times El 9 de septiembre informó que Kim estaba "muy enfermo y probablemente sufrió un derrame cerebral hace unas semanas, pero las autoridades de inteligencia de Estados Unidos no creen que su muerte sea inminente". [77] La ​​BBC señaló que el gobierno de Corea del Norte negó estos informes, afirmando que los problemas de salud de Kim "no eran lo suficientemente graves como para amenazar su vida", [78] [79] aunque confirmaron que había sufrido un derrame cerebral el 15 de agosto. . [80]

La agencia de noticias japonesa Kyodo News informó el 14 de septiembre que "Kim se derrumbó el 14 de agosto debido a un derrame cerebral o una hemorragia cerebral, y que Beijing envió a cinco médicos militares a petición de Pyongyang. Kim necesitará un largo período de descanso y rehabilitación antes de que se recupera y vuelve a tener completo dominio de sus extremidades, como ocurre con las típicas víctimas de un ictus ". De Japón Mainichi Shimbun afirmó que Kim ocasionalmente había perdido el conocimiento desde abril. [81] Japón Tokio Shimbun el 15 de septiembre, añadió que Kim se alojaba en la casa de huéspedes del estado de Bongwha. Aparentemente estaba consciente "pero necesita algo de tiempo para recuperarse del ictus reciente, con algunas partes de sus manos y pies paralizados". Citó fuentes chinas que afirmaron que una de las causas del accidente cerebrovascular podría haber sido el estrés provocado por la demora de Estados Unidos para eliminar a Corea del Norte de su lista de patrocinadores estatales del terrorismo. [82]

El 19 de octubre, según los informes, Corea del Norte ordenó a sus diplomáticos que permanecieran cerca de sus embajadas a la espera de "un mensaje importante", según el informe de Japón. Yomiuri Shimbun, lo que desencadenó una renovada especulación sobre la salud del líder enfermo. [83]

Para el 29 de octubre de 2008, los informes indicaron que Kim sufrió un grave revés y fue trasladada al hospital. [84] Los New York Times informó que el primer ministro japonés Taro Aso, el 28 de octubre de 2008, declaró en una sesión parlamentaria que Kim había sido hospitalizado: "Su estado no es tan bueno. Sin embargo, no creo que sea totalmente incapaz de tomar decisiones". Aso dijo además que un neurocirujano francés estaba a bordo de un avión con destino a Beijing, en ruta a Corea del Norte. Además, Kim Sung-ho, director del Servicio de Inteligencia Nacional de Corea del Sur, dijo a los legisladores en una sesión parlamentaria cerrada en Seúl que "Kim parecía estar recuperándose lo suficientemente rápido para comenzar a realizar sus deberes diarios". [85] El Dong-a Ilbo El periódico informó "un problema grave" con la salud de Kim. La cadena japonesa Fuji Television informó que el hijo mayor de Kim, Kim Jong-nam, viajó a París para contratar a un neurocirujano para su padre y mostró imágenes en las que el cirujano abordó el vuelo CA121 con destino a Pyongyang desde Beijing el 24 de octubre. El semanario francés Le Point lo identificó como Francois-Xavier Roux, director de neurocirugía del Hospital Sainte-Anne de París, pero el propio Roux declaró que estuvo en Beijing durante varios días y no en Corea del Norte. [86] El 19 de diciembre de 2011, Roux confirmó que Kim sufrió un derrame cerebral debilitante en 2008 y fue tratado por él y otros médicos franceses en el Hospital de la Cruz Roja de Pyongyang. Roux dijo que Kim sufrió pocos efectos duraderos. [87]

El 5 de noviembre de 2008, la Agencia Central de Noticias de Corea del Norte publicó 2 fotografías que mostraban a Kim posando con docenas de soldados del Ejército Popular de Corea (EKP) en una visita a la Unidad militar 2200 y la subunidad de la Unidad 534. Se muestra con su habitual peinado abultado, con Con sus característicos lentes de sol y una parka blanca de invierno, Kim se paró frente a árboles con follaje otoñal y una pancarta roja y blanca. [88] [89] [90] [91] Los tiempos cuestionó la autenticidad de al menos una de estas fotos. [92]

En noviembre de 2008, la cadena de televisión japonesa TBS informó que Kim había sufrido un segundo derrame cerebral en octubre, que "afectó el movimiento de su brazo y pierna izquierdos y también su capacidad para hablar". [93] Sin embargo, la agencia de inteligencia de Corea del Sur rechazó este informe. [93]

En respuesta a los rumores sobre la salud de Kim y la supuesta pérdida de poder, en abril de 2009, Corea del Norte publicó un video que mostraba a Kim visitando fábricas y otros lugares del país entre noviembre y diciembre de 2008. [94] En 2010, documentos publicados por WikiLeaks supuestamente atestiguó que Kim sufría de epilepsia. [95]

Sucesor

Los tres hijos de Kim y su cuñado, junto con O Kuk-ryol, un general del ejército, habían sido señalados como posibles sucesores, pero el gobierno de Corea del Norte durante un tiempo había guardado total silencio sobre este asunto. [97]

Kim Yong Hyun, un experto en política del Instituto de Estudios de Corea del Norte de la Universidad Dongguk de Seúl, dijo en 2007: "Incluso el establecimiento norcoreano no abogaría por la continuación de la dinastía familiar en este momento". [98] Anteriormente se creía que el hijo mayor de Kim, Kim Jong-nam, era el heredero designado, pero parecía haber caído en desgracia después de ser arrestado en el Aeropuerto Internacional de Narita, cerca de Tokio en 2001, donde lo atraparon intentando ingresar a Japón con un pasaporte falso. para visitar Tokyo Disneyland. [99]

El 2 de junio de 2009, se informó que el hijo menor de Kim, Kim Jong-un, sería el próximo líder de Corea del Norte. [100] Al igual que su padre y su abuelo, también se le ha dado un sobrenombre oficial, El camarada brillante. [101] Antes de su muerte, se informó que se esperaba que Kim designara oficialmente al hijo como su sucesor en 2012. [102]

Reelección como líder

El 9 de abril de 2009, Kim fue reelegido presidente de la Comisión de Defensa Nacional [103] y compareció ante la Asamblea Popular Suprema. Esta fue la primera vez que se vio a Kim en público desde agosto de 2008. Fue reelegido por unanimidad y recibió una ovación de pie. [104]

El 28 de septiembre de 2010, Kim fue reelegido como secretario general del Partido de los Trabajadores de Corea. [105]

Visitas al extranjero 2010 y 2011

Según los informes, Kim visitó la República Popular China en mayo de 2010. Entró al país en su tren personal el 3 de mayo y se hospedó en un hotel en Dalian. [106] En mayo de 2010, el subsecretario de Estado de Estados Unidos para Asuntos de Asia Oriental y el Pacífico, Kurt Campbell, dijo a los funcionarios surcoreanos que Kim solo tenía tres años de vida, según la información médica que se había compilado. [107] Kim viajó a China nuevamente en agosto de 2010, esta vez con su hijo, lo que alimentó las especulaciones en ese momento de que estaba listo para entregar el poder a su hijo, Kim Jong-un. [108]

Regresó a China nuevamente en mayo de 2011, marcando el 50 aniversario de la firma del Tratado de Amistad, Cooperación y Asistencia Mutua entre China y la RPDC. [109] A finales de agosto de 2011, viajó en tren al Lejano Oriente ruso para reunirse con el presidente Dmitry Medvedev para conversaciones no especificadas. [110]

Finales de 2011

Se especuló que las visitas de Kim al extranjero en 2010 y 2011 eran una señal de que estaba mejorando su salud y que podría seguir una posible desaceleración en la sucesión. Después de la visita a Rusia, Kim apareció en un desfile militar en Pyongyang el 9 de septiembre, acompañado por Kim Jong-un. [111]

Familia

No hay información oficial disponible sobre la historia matrimonial de Kim Jong-il, pero se cree que se casó oficialmente dos veces y tuvo tres amantes. [112] Tenía tres hijos conocidos: Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-chul y Kim Jong-un. Sus dos hijas conocidas son Kim Sol-song y Kim Yo-jong. [1] [113]

La primera esposa de Kim, Hong Il-chon, era hija de un mártir que murió durante la Guerra de Corea. Su padre la eligió a dedo y se casó con él en 1966. Tienen una niña llamada Kim Hye-kyung, [114] que nació en 1968. Pronto, se divorciaron en 1969.

La primera amante de Kim, Song Hye-rim, fue una estrella de las películas de Corea del Norte. Ella ya estaba casada con otro hombre y con un hijo cuando se conocieron. [115] Se informa que Kim obligó a su marido a divorciarse de ella. Esta relación, iniciada en 1970, no fue reconocida oficialmente. Tuvieron un hijo, Kim Jong-nam (1971–2017), que era el hijo mayor de Kim Jong-il. Kim mantuvo la relación y el niño en secreto (incluso de su padre) hasta que ascendió al poder en 1994. [115] [116] Sin embargo, después de años de distanciamiento, se cree que Song murió en Moscú en el Hospital Clínico Central. en 2002. [117]

La esposa oficial de Kim, Kim Young-sook, era hija de un oficial militar de alto rango. Su padre, Kim Il-Sung, la eligió para que se casara con su hijo. [112] Los dos estuvieron separados durante algunos años antes de la muerte de Kim. Kim tuvo una hija de este matrimonio, Kim Sol-song (nacida en 1974). [113]

Su segunda amante, Ko Yong-hui, era una bailarina de etnia coreana nacida en Japón. Ella había asumido el papel de Primera Dama hasta su muerte, supuestamente de cáncer, en 2004. Tuvieron dos hijos, Kim Jong-chul (en 1981) y Kim Jong-un, también "Jong Woon" o "Jong Woong" ( en 1983). [116] [118] También tuvieron una hija, Kim Yo-jong, que tenía unos 23 años en 2012. [1] [119]

Después de la muerte de Ko, Kim vivió con Kim Ok, su tercera amante, quien se había desempeñado como su secretaria personal desde la década de 1980. Ella "actuó virtualmente [ed] como la primera dama de Corea del Norte" y con frecuencia acompañó a Kim en sus visitas a bases militares y en reuniones con dignatarios extranjeros visitantes. Viajó con Kim en un viaje secreto a China en enero de 2006, donde fue recibida por funcionarios chinos como esposa de Kim. [120]

Según Michael Breen, autor del libro Kim Jong Il: querido líder de Corea del Norte, las mujeres íntimamente vinculadas a Kim nunca adquirieron ningún poder o influencia de importancia. Según explica, sus roles se limitaban al romance y la vida doméstica. [121]

Tenía una hermana menor, Kim Kyong-hui. Estaba casada con Jang Sung-taek, quien fue ejecutado en diciembre de 2013 en Pyongyang, luego de ser acusada de traición y corrupción. [122]

Personalidad

Al igual que su padre, Kim tenía miedo a volar [123] y siempre viajaba en un tren blindado privado para realizar visitas de estado a Rusia y China. [124] La BBC informó que Konstantin Pulikovsky, un emisario ruso que viajó con Kim a través de Rusia en tren, dijo a los reporteros que Kim había llevado langostas vivas al tren todos los días y se las comía con palillos de plata. [125]

Se decía que Kim era un gran fanático del cine y poseía una colección de más de 20.000 cintas de vídeo y DVD. [126] [127] Entre sus franquicias de películas favoritas se incluyen James Bond, Viernes 13, Rambo, Godzilla y el cine de acción de Hong Kong, [128] [129] con Sean Connery y Elizabeth Taylor sus actores masculinos y femeninos favoritos. [128] [130] También se decía que Kim era un fanático de las comedias de Ealing, inspirado por su énfasis en el espíritu de equipo y un proletariado movilizado. [131] Fue el autor Sobre el arte del cine. En 1978, por orden de Kim, el director de cine surcoreano Shin Sang-ok y su esposa, la actriz Choi Eun-hee, fueron secuestrados para construir una industria cinematográfica norcoreana. [132] En 2006, participó en la producción de la película basada en Juche. El diario de la colegiala, que describía la vida de una niña cuyos padres son científicos, con un informe de noticias de KCNA que indica que Kim "mejoró su guión y guió su producción". [133]

Aunque Kim disfrutó de muchas formas de entretenimiento extranjeras, según el ex guardaespaldas Lee Young Kuk, se negó a consumir alimentos o bebidas que no se produjeran en Corea del Norte, con la excepción del vino de Francia. [134] Sin embargo, su ex chef Kenji Fujimoto ha declarado que, en ocasiones, Kim lo enviaba por todo el mundo a comprar una variedad de delicias extranjeras. [135]

Según los informes, a Kim le gustaba el baloncesto. La exsecretaria de Estado de los Estados Unidos, Madeleine Albright, terminó su cumbre con Kim presentándole una pelota de baloncesto firmada por la leyenda de la NBA Michael Jordan. [136] Su biografía oficial también afirma que Kim compuso seis óperas y disfruta de la puesta en escena de elaborados musicales. [137]

El enviado especial de los Estados Unidos para las conversaciones de paz de Corea, Charles Kartman, quien participó en la cumbre de Madeleine Albright de 2000 con Kim, caracterizó a Kim como un hombre razonable en las negociaciones, al grano, pero con sentido del humor y personalmente atento a la gente. él estaba hospedando. [138] Sin embargo, las evaluaciones psicológicas concluyen que los rasgos antisociales de Kim, como su intrepidez ante las sanciones y el castigo, sirvieron para dificultar extraordinariamente las negociaciones. [139]

El campo de la psicología ha estado fascinado durante mucho tiempo con la evaluación de la personalidad de los dictadores, una noción que resultó en una extensa evaluación de la personalidad de Kim. El informe, compilado por Frederick L. Coolidge y Daniel L. Segal (con la ayuda de un psiquiatra surcoreano considerado un experto en el comportamiento de Kim), concluyó que el grupo de los "seis grandes" de trastornos de la personalidad compartidos por los dictadores Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin y Saddam Hussein (sádico, paranoico, antisocial, narcisista, esquizoide y esquizotípico) también fueron compartidos por Kim, coincidiendo principalmente con el perfil de Saddam Hussein. [140]

La evaluación encontró que Kim parecía enorgullecerse de la independencia de Corea del Norte, a pesar de las dificultades extremas que parece imponer al pueblo norcoreano, un atributo que parece emanar de su patrón de personalidad antisocial. [139]

Los desertores afirmaron que Kim tenía 17 palacios y residencias diferentes en toda Corea del Norte, incluido un resort privado cerca de la montaña Baekdu, un albergue junto al mar en la ciudad de Wonsan y Ryongsong Residence, un complejo de palacios al noreste de Pyongyang rodeado de múltiples vallas, búnkeres y Baterías antiaéreas. [141]

Finanzas

Según un informe de 2010 en el Sunday Telegraph, Kim tenía 4.000 millones de dólares depositados en bancos europeos en caso de que alguna vez tuviera que huir de Corea del Norte. los Sunday Telegraph informó que la mayor parte del dinero estaba en bancos de Luxemburgo. [142]

Se informó que Kim había muerto de un presunto ataque al corazón el 17 de diciembre de 2011 a las 8:30 a.m. mientras viajaba en tren a una zona en las afueras de Pyongyang. [143] [144] Se informó en diciembre de 2012, sin embargo, que había muerto "en un ataque de rabia" por las fallas de construcción en un proyecto de planta de energía crucial en Huichon en la provincia de Jagang. [145] Fue sucedido por su hijo menor, Kim Jong-un, quien fue aclamado por la Agencia Central de Noticias de Corea como el "Gran Sucesor". [146] [147] [148] Según la Agencia Central de Noticias de Corea (KCNA), durante su muerte, una feroz tormenta de nieve "se detuvo" y "el cielo resplandeció de rojo sobre el sagrado Monte Paektu" y el hielo de un famoso lago también se agrietó. tan fuerte que pareció "sacudir los cielos y la tierra". [149]

El funeral de Kim tuvo lugar el 28 de diciembre en Pyongyang, con un período de duelo que se prolongó hasta el día siguiente. El ejército de Corea del Sur fue puesto en alerta inmediatamente después del anuncio y su Consejo de Seguridad Nacional fue convocado para una reunión de emergencia, debido a la preocupación de que las maniobras políticas en Corea del Norte pudieran desestabilizar la región. Los mercados bursátiles asiáticos cayeron poco después del anuncio, debido a preocupaciones similares. [143]

On 12 January 2012, North Korea called Kim the "eternal leader" and announced that his body would be preserved and displayed at Pyongyang's Kumsusan Memorial Palace. Officials also announced plans to install statues, portraits, and "towers to his immortality" across the country. [150] [151] His birthday of 16 February was declared "the greatest auspicious holiday of the nation" and was named the Day of the Shining Star. [152]

In February 2012, on what would have been his 71st birthday, Kim was posthumously made Dae Wonsu (usually translated as Generalissimo, literally Grand Marshal), the nation's top military rank. He had been named Wonsu (Marshal) in 1992 when North Korean founder Kim Il-sung was promoted to Dae Wonsu. [153] Also in February 2012, the North Korean government created the Order of Kim Jong-il in his honor and awarded it to 132 individuals for services in building a "thriving socialist nation" and for increasing defense capabilities. [154]

Kim received numerous titles during his rule. In April 2009, North Korea's constitution was amended to refer to him and his successors as the "supreme leader of the DPRK". [155]

  • Party Center of the WPK and Member, Central Committee of the WPK (1970s) [156]
  • Dear Leader (Chinaehaneun Jidoja) (late 1970s–1994) [156]
  • Member, Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK
  • Secretary, Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (1974–1997) member, WPK Central Committee (1980–2011)
  • Supreme Commander, Korean People's Army (25 December 1991 – 17 December 2011) [27]
  • Marshal of the DPRK (1993–2011) [157]
  • Chairman, National Defence Commission (1993–2011) [33]
  • Great Leader (Widehan Ryongdoja) (July 1994 – December 2011) [156]
  • General Secretary, Workers' Party of Korea (October 1997 – December 2011) [105]
  • Chairman, Central Military Commission (DPRK) (October 1997 – December 2011)
  • Eternal Leader (posthumous) (January 2012 – present) [150]
  • Generalissimo of the DPRK (posthumous) (January 2012 – present) [158]
  • Eternal General Secretary, Workers' Party of Korea (posthumous) (11 April 2012 – present) [159]
  • Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission (posthumous) (13 April 2012 – present) [160]
  • Eternal leader of the Workers' Party of Korea (posthumous) (7 May 2016 – present) [161]
  • Eternal leader of Juche Korea (posthumous) (29 June 2016 – present) [162]

According to North Korean sources, Kim published some 890 works during a period of his career from June 1964 to June 1994. [163] According to KCNA, the number of works from 1964 to 2001 was 550. [164] In 2000, it was reported that the Workers' Party of Korea Publishing House has published at least 120 works by Kim. [165] In 2009, KCNA put the numbers as follows:

At least 354,000 copies of [Kim Jong-il's works] were translated into nearly 70 languages and came off the press in about 80 countries in the new century. There were more than 500 activities for studying and distributing the works in at least 120 countries and regions in 2006. The following year witnessed a total of more than 600 events of diverse forms in at least 130 countries and regions. And 2008 saw at least 3,000 functions held in over 150 countries and regions for the same purpose. [166]

los Selected Works of Kim Jong-il (Enlarged Edition), whose publishing has continued posthumously, runs into volume 24 in Korean [167] and to volume 15 in English. [168] Volumes three to eight were never published in English. [169]

los Complete Collection of Kim Jong-il's Works is currently in volume 13. [170] There is a "Kim Jong-il's Works Exhibition House" dedicated to his works in North Korea, holding 1,100 of his works and manuscripts. [171]

In his teens and university years, Kim had written poems. [172] He also wrote song lyrics. [173] His first major literary work was On the Art of the Cinema in 1973. [174]


History Tells Us How North Korea Would Handle the Death of Kim Jong-un

North Korea will use a fog of disinformation to maintain stability, just as Pyongyang did with Kim Jong-il.

The question of potential instability and a possible power struggle came up when Kim Jong-il, father of the current leader, suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma in 2008. Back then, North Korea kept his illness secret for weeks, and kept him out of the public eye for months.

The uncertainty back then sparked very real, very relevant questions about what might happen in this impoverished, nuclear-armed country where there was no clear chain of succession. And the stakes are even higher today, given the nuclear advancements Kim Jong-un has made as well as the even more fragile state of the North Korean economy under sanctions.

We should remember that North Korea was able to quietly tighten the cordon of security around his ailing father in 2008 and effectively restrict the flow of information in and out of the country as a way to avoid sparking panic at home as well to conceal his state of health to the outside world. That gave the regime time to put measures in place to ensure stability as well as to focus on a succession plan to groom Kim Jong-un and introduce him as the heir apparent. It wasn’t much time but it was enough to avert a crisis of instability when Kim Jong-ll died in 2011.

Some analysts have long predicted the collapse of the North Korean regime with a change of leadership. But I would say the system is stronger than we think, partly due to the fog of disinformation that the regime employs to keep its citizens in the dark. Uncertainty paralyzes them.

If Kim Jong-un were to fall ill or worse, we would see that same quiet tightening of security and the flow of information as we saw in 2008. Perhaps we are seeing that now. But we may not know immediately, and the inner circle would seek to conceal the true state of matters for as long as possible to buy time to maintain stability and put a succession plan in place.


South Korea questions story of Kim Jong Il's death

REPORTING FROM SEOUL –- In life -– and now even in death -– Kim Jong Il's whereabouts have always been a guessing game.

Is he here, or over there? ¡No! Wait, there he is! Poof!

Inside his Hermit Kingdom, press pictures released of Kim were always undated. Live-television images of the "Dear Leader" were pretty much verboten.

Now, South Korean intelligence officials are even casting doubt on Pyongyang's official story line that the 69-year-old Kim died of a heart attack while working aboard a moving train Saturday morning.

South Korea's top spy, Won Sei-hoon, told lawmakers in Seoul that a review of satellite photographs revealed that Kim's train was actually stationary at a Pyongyang station at the time of the ruler's death, as announced by the North, according to media reports.

"There were no signs the train ever moved," South Korean media quoted Won as telling officials.

South Korea's Defense Ministry on Wednesday seconded Won's reported comments, questioning the circumstances of the dictator's death.

Due to previous assassination attempts, Kim always traveled aboard a bulletproof train that was more like an armored Queen Mary on wheels.

North Korea watchers speculate that the time and place of Kim's death may somehow be sensitive to North Korean officials as they oversee the transition of power to the late strongman's handpicked successor, his youngest son, Kim Jong Un.

South Korean media reported rumors circulating among national lawmakers that Kim Jong Il actually died in his bed at his Pyongyang residence.

But the image of a sickly, weakened and prone "Dear Leader" taking his last breaths may not have sounded sufficiently patriotic to suit Pyongyang's propaganda machine.

So maybe, just maybe, the North Koreans pulled a page from Hollywood and . did a rewrite! The image of an indefatigable Kim dying while on a "field guidance tour" better fits the legacy of a dictator who didn't know quit.

(Think the drama of a young John F. Kennedy cut down in the infancy of his presidency, or a charismatic Theodore Roosevelt-type who keels over at his desk.)

The North's Korean Central News Agency is perpetrating the dictator-as-hero story, reporting that the North Korean people, "young and old, men and women, are calling Kim Jong Il, who gave tireless field guidance, totally dedicated day and night to the happiness of the people."

But there's even more intrigue to Kim's possible disappearing act.

Many here say South Korean -– and even U.S. -– intelligence officials are trying to cover up for a major gaffe: getting caught with their spy pants down and not knowing earlier about the death of one of the world’s most detested and dangerous figures.

South Korean media have reported that Seoul officials learned about Kim's death on Monday along with the rest of the world -– when it was broadcast on television. That's two days after the supposed event.

What's more, during Monday's noon hour, about the time the news hit here, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was reportedly attending a surprise birthday party thrown by aides at the Blue House (South Korea’s version of the White House).

Lee was celebrating a triple-whammy: his 71st birthday, 41st wedding anniversary and the fourth anniversary of his winning the presidency. Some aides were reportedly wearing pointed party hats when Lee arrived at the gathering of 200 celebrants, apparently just before the news of the North Korean dictator's death broke.

Wheeeeee! There’s the birthday boy!

Somewhere, the ever-secretive Kim Jong Il may be having the last laugh.

Photo: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il smiles while visiting a shopping center in Vladivostok, Russia. Credit: AFP


Kim Jong-un’s mysterious family tree

Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, made headlines by attending the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She was the first member of North Korea’s ruling Kim family, which has a monopoly on the wealth and political power of North Korea, to visit South Korea, and details about her family remain elusive to the rest of the world in many ways.

In the most recent Brookings essay, senior fellow Jung Pak shares her expertise on North Korea and insight on Kim Jong-un and his family.

WHY KIM JONG-UN

Kim Jong-un came to power with the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, who died from a heart attack in December 2011. This was unsurprising in the Kim family, which has a history of heart disease. North Korea’s founder and Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, also died from a heart attack.

If Kim Jong-Il had kept with Korean tradition, Pak writes in the essay, Kim Jong-un—his father’s third son—would not have been his father’s successor and instead his oldest brother, Kim Jong-nam, would have been chosen for succession. However, as Pak explains, Kim Jong-il reportedly dismissed Kim Jong-nam as unfit to lead North Korea because he was “tainted by foreign influence” when, in 2001, Jong-nam had been detained in Japan with a fake passport in a failed attempt to go to Tokyo Disneyland. It is said that he had suggested that North Korea undertake policy reform and open up to the West, enraging his father.

After, Jong-nam, Kim Jong-il’s second son, Kim Jong-chul was “deemed too effeminate” to rule. That left Kim Jong-un, the youngest of the three sons, to succeed his father as the head of North Korea.

*North Korea’s secrecy makes it difficult to verify information about Kim Jong-un’s children, including how many there are and when they were born. His wife’s birth date is also unconfirmed.

Jung Pak writes, “There had been signs before 2011 that Kim was grooming his son for the succession: he began to accompany his father on publicized inspections of military units, his birth home was designated a historical site, and he began to assume leadership titles and roles in the military, party, and security apparatus, including as a four-star general in 2010.”


The Death of Kim Jong-il and the Future of U.S. Relations with the Two Koreas

North Korean state-run television announced Monday that longtime leader Kim Jong-il died Saturday at the age of 69, after reportedly suffering a heart attack while traveling on a train. Under his leadership, North Korea became a nuclear state and was widely known as one of the most repressive societies in the world. Kim Jong-il’s youngest son, Kim Jung-un, is expected to become North Korea’s new leader, but it is unclear if his ascendancy will bring about any real changes, as Kim Jong-il ruled North Korea in concert with a large circle of regime insiders who remain at the helm. We look at how the Korean Peninsula is the most militarized region on earth and what this means in this transition of power. “Given the past history of animosity and confrontation between the two Koreas, our government has taken precautionary measures to stabilize the situation,” says Chung-in Moon, professor of political science at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, and former government official who twice met with Kim. Meanwhile, “there’s a kind of reverence for Kim Jong-il by the people, because the North Korean people have a deep sense of needing sovereignty and independence,” notes Christine Ahn, executive director of the Korea Policy Institute. She says North Koreans recall 35 years of Japanese occupation and were proud of “joining the nuclear club” in order to prevent what they perceive as U.S. military occupation and the division of the Korean Peninsula. [incluye transcripción urgente]

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Transcripción

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the death of Korean leader Kim Jong-il. State-run television announced Monday he had died Saturday at the age of 69, after reportedly suffering a heart attack while traveling on a train. Known as the Dear Leader, Kim took over North Korea in 1994 following the death of his father, Kim Il-sung. The two men are the only leaders North Korea has known since the Korean Peninsula was formally divided in 1948.

Under Kim Jong-il’s leadership, North Korea became a nuclear state. In 2003, North Korea quit the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty after the Bush administration refused to hold bilateral talks and uphold an agreement to supply light-water reactors. Three years later, North Korea tested its first nuclear device.

North Korea, under Kim Jong-il, is widely known as one of the most repressive societies in the world. While it was becoming a nuclear state, an estimated one million of its citizens died during a famine in the 1990s. The United Nations estimates at least 200,000 people have died or languished in a state security apparatus that includes forced labor camps, prisons and public executions.

North Korean authorities released video footage of dozens of mourners sobbing uncontrollably in a public square upon the news of Kim Jong-il’s death. Those images provided by North Korean state media.

South Korea put its military on alert following the news of Kim Jong-il’s death. Not long after, North Korea reportedly test-fired a missile off its northern coast. The two sides have technically been at war since the signing of the Korean armistice in 1953.

Kim Jong-il’s youngest son, Kim Jung-un, is expected to become North Korea’s new leader. But it’s unclear if his ascendancy will bring about any real changes. Kim Jong-il ruled North Korea in concert with a large circle of regime insiders who remain at the helm.

While the Obama administration has continued the Bush stance of refusing direct negotiations, it’s engaged with North Korea indirectly through the “six-party talks” alongside South Korea, Japan, China and Russia. In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. maintains hope for better relations with North Korea, but also concern for the plight of its people.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON : We both share a common interest in a peaceful and stable transition in North Korea, as well as an ensuring regional peace and stability. We have been in close touch with our partners in the six-party talks today. We reiterate our hope for improved relations with the people of North Korea and remain deeply concerned about their well-being.

AMY GOODMAN: For analysis on the death of Kim Jong-il and what it means for North Korea, the Korean Peninsula and the world, we begin our coverage in Seoul, South Korea, where we’re joined by Chung-in Moon, professor of political science at Yonsei University and editor-in-chief of Global Asia, an English quarterly magazine. He previously served in the South Korean government and was involved in diplomatic efforts with the North Korean government.

We welcome you to Democracy Now! Can you talk about the significance of the North Korean leader’s death and why South Korea is now on high alert?

CHUNG -IN MOON : But actually is very much a precautionary measure, because North Korea is going through the national mourning period, therefore North Korea is really obsessed with internal issues, therefore there’s no great threat coming from North Korea. But given the past history of animosity and confrontation between the two Koreas, our government has taken precautionary measures to stabilize the situation.

AMY GOODMAN: You actually met Kim Jong-il in 2000. Talk about the context of the meeting, and explain your—explain his significance in the Korean Peninsula.

CHUNG -IN MOON : I met him twice, one in 2000 and the other in 2007, during the two Korean summit talks. And I was very much impressed at the way he performed during those two summit talks. But he was a paramount leader of North Korea, and he was really dictating North Korean policy on South Korea, on the United States. Therefore, he has really unprecedented power in his hands. Therefore, he was dictating North Korean destiny, at the same time he was influencing inter-Korean relations. Therefore, I would say that he has a very important stature in the Korean history.

AMY GOODMAN: The intelligence services of South Korea, of the United States, of China, have been humiliated by what happened over the weekend. They did not know that Kim Jong-il had died until it was announced on—by the Korean media. What about the relationship between South Korea and North Korea? For people in the United States, although the U.S. is deeply involved in the militarization of the peninsula, the most militarized area on earth, there’s really very little knowledge about the Korean Peninsula, about what happens in North Korea, let alone South Korea.

CHUNG -IN MOON : During the past decade of the President Kim Dae-jung and President Roh Moo-hyun, there were quite high level of interactions between North and South Korea, therefore North Korean society was kind of exposed to South Korean society. But since the inauguration of President Lee Myung-bak, there have been very worsened relationship between North and South Korea. And there was the death of one tourist in Mount Kumgang area, and also there was the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and torpedoing of our naval vessel. And all these things strained inter-Korean relations. And our government suspended all kinds of exchanges and cooperation with North Korea. But I think that has really delimited our access to intelligence in North Korea.

AMY GOODMAN: The fact that the Korean Peninsula is the most militarized area on earth—from your perspective in South Korea, Chung-in Moon, could you talk about the U.S. involvement in the region and how originally North and South Korea became separate countries?

CHUNG -IN MOON : When the Second World War was over, there was a so-called Yalta meeting. And in the Yalta meeting, there was a kind of tacit agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union to divide the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, Korean division was a direct product of the new beginning of the Cold War in 1945. And then, afterwards, the United States, as the occupation force in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, returned the South Korean sovereignty to South Korean people. And on the other hand, North Korea was under the occupation of the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union set up its puppet government in Pyongyang. And Kim Il-sung was the leader anointed by the Soviet Union. In that way, the Korean Peninsula was divided. In 1948, South Korea became the Republic of Korea as a sovereign—independent, sovereign state, and North was declared as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1948. That was a fixed division of the Korean Peninsula.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then bring other guests into this discussion, from Amnesty International and the Korea Policy Institute. Our guest in Seoul, South Korea, Professor Chung-in Moon, h is professor of political science at Yonsei University and editor-in-chief of Global Asia, an English quarterly magazine, met with Kim Jong-il twice, in 2000 and 2007. This is Democracy Now! Back in 60 seconds.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest in Seoul, South Korea, Chung-in Moon, professor of political science, Yonsei University, editor-in-chief of Global Asia, an English quarterly magazine, previously served in the South Korean government, where he was involved with diplomatic efforts and met with Kim Jong-il, who died on Saturday, they say at the age of 69, though others say he was 70.

Christine Ahn is joining us from the University of California, Berkeley, studios, executive director of Korea Policy Institute.

Christine Ahn, if you could continue with this history lesson that Professor Chung-in Moon began for us, especially for people here in the United States. You know the lack of geographical awareness of people here. We live in an insulated world—a globalized world, but we’re very insulated in the United States. What do you feel it’s most important to understand about North Korea in a global context?

CHRISTINE AHN : Thanks, Amy.

I appreciated Professor Moon’s brief history lesson, but I felt he kind of omitted a few key factors in explaining that very pivotal moment in Korean history. Yes, the Korean Peninsula was divided unilaterally, first by the United States and then with a sort of nod of agreement from the Soviet Union, but it also played a very critical role in installing a military government in South Korea. And since that period, since 1945, when it first landed in Incheon, it has had, you know, up to—you know, now it currently has 28,500 troops on the Korean Peninsula. But the part about South Korea’s democracy being really quashed, actually, for quite many decades, with the backing of the U.S., and I think that’s the bit of Korean history that Professor Moon had left out.

And the other bit about Korea that most Americans don’t realize is that the Korean War, which was the first Cold War, the front of the Cold War, and it continues to be the remaining war that has been unresolved, and I would say that it’s very crucial to understand that the fact that the Korean War has not ended has very much to do with the situation that North Korea finds itself in and the fact that it is still the most militarized region in the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Chung-in Moon, would you like to respond?

CHUNG -IN MOON : Si. There are good things and bad things. The United States has played some role in the Korean division, and also United States was—in part, was a patronizing military government in South Korea. But eventually, in 1987, South Korea achieved democratization, with a little help of the United States, by our own passion and power. Therefore, I think that the United States had some part in it, but I think the South Korean people have been able to achieve democratization. Since then, we have been achieving both growth and democracy in South Korea, even though there are temporal setbacks in our democratic movement.

AMY GOODMAN: Christine Ahn, if you could expand to talk about this issue of the Korean Peninsula being the most militarized region on earth and the issue of North Korea being a nuclear nation and what this means in this transition of power.

CHRISTINE AHN : Well, there are an estimated 1.2 million land mines still strewn across the Demilitarized Zone, across the 38th parallel. North Korea is—you know, I think that’s the mixed legacy of Kim Jong-il. And, you know, on the one hand, he inherited a very difficult situation in North Korea in 1994. The country had just—you know, with the passing of Kim Il-sung, which was the only leader that the country had known since 1945, 1948, and the fact that that country was undergoing tremendous, like, calamitous shocks, external and internal. 1994, it was on the brink of war with the United States. The Clinton administration was poised to strike its Yongbyon processing plant. It had endured serious serial droughts and harsh inclement weather that is very similar to the patterns of climate change that we’re seeing today, especially throughout Asia. And it had—it endured the collapse of the socialist trading bloc, so its dependence on not just exchange with China and the Soviet Union, but especially the import of fuel to just run basic things like the tractors to operate its agricultural system. And so, it endured a very difficult famine, and up to—you know, as you mentioned, up to a million people perished in that famine. And so, this was the period in which Kim Jong-il took over the reins.

And, you know, I think that it’s really critical to understand the kind of geopolitical context and the fact that North Korea has always viewed its engagement with the United States through the six-party talks as an opportunity to normalize relations, because they have viewed the engagement with the West and the normalization, especially with the United States, its historic enemy, as crucial for its economic recalibration. And unfortunately, whether it’s the Bush administration, whether it’s the Obama administration, or even the Clinton administration, it has always viewed North Korea as, you know, this basket-case country that is on the brink of collapse. And that has tremendous consequences, not just for peace on the Korean Peninsula or for the region, but for the very security and survival of the people of North Korea, who are struggling on a day-to-day basis to have access to food, to have access to electricity.

So, if I were to say one thing on this show, it’s, you know, we need to promote engagement, we need to promote dialogue, and that’s what we know works. As Professor Moon has mentioned, you know, in that period of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, the previous presidents before Lee Myung-bak, there was a period of not just engagement between North and South Korean leaders and governments, but among civil society and families that have been divided, you know. I mean, there are millions of Korean families, especially here in the United States, who have still family in North Korea. So, I would say that this is an opportunity to—you know, we can conjecture all we want what’s going to happen to North Korea, and under the leadership of Kim Jong-un or the political elite, but what we can do is try to influence our political leaders to, you know, be in the spirit of engagement, direct dialogue and promotion of peace and reconciliation.

AMY GOODMAN: Christine Ahn, executive director of the Korean Policy Institute, can you talk about the significance of the nuclear bomb that North Korea has and how that really is what directs U.S. policy towards North Korea? And your sense of who Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s son, who is expected to succeed him, went recently with him on a trip to China, but very young, what—who he is and what the internal—the top circle in North Korea, how much power it wields versus what the son will wield?

CHRISTINE AHN : Well, Amy, sorry I got derailed there for a minute. But I would say that’s the mixed legacy of Kim Jong-il. I would say that the ordinary North Korean—I mean, and it’s so hard to tell. I mean, even the CIA says we don’t know what we don’t know about North Korea. But—and as you mentioned, you know, the intelligence failure, where most of the world didn’t even know that he had passed away two days after it had happened.

But the situation with Kim Jong-il is, you know, that the people were hoping for economic improvement in their day-to-day lives, and he was not able to see that through. And—but on the other hand, this is a perspective that I was able to get by traveling throughout North Korea, and it is that, you know, there’s a kind of reverence for Kim Jong-il by the people, because the North Korean people have a deep sense of needing sovereignty and independence. And that is because the birth of North Korea as a nation, you know, was essentially the result of resistance and revolution against foreign occupation, and that includes 35 years of Japanese occupation, but it also includes what they perceive as U.S. military occupation and the division of the Korean Peninsula. So, in some sense, there is a reverence for Kim Jong-il because he was able to acquire a nuclear weapon, and there was a pride that the North Koreans had about North Korea joining the nuclear club. And I think it’s important, though, to clarify that North Koreans, you know, don’t have that pride because they want to wield that nuclear weapon to threaten or terrorize the rest of the world, but I say that—in my conversations with the people of North Korea, it was that, you know, “We are lucky we have this, because we won’t be another Iraq. We won’t be another victim of U.S. military invasion.”

And, you know, the thing is, is that they are speaking from the lived experience. When I went to North Korea, others—I had a very interesting insight, where I would travel around the country, and with our guides, you know, they would always point to this building. This was a restaurant. It was, you know, a very ancient-looking Korean building. But it was—I was wondering, why are—why do they always keep pointing that building out? And the thing that was really surprising is that was the only building that remained since the Korean War. Otherwise, the rest of Pyongyang was essentially leveled. And that was because of the devastating air raids. More bombs were dropped in the Korean War than in World War II. Napalm was introduced. I mean, the U.S. bombed dams, which was considered a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

So, this is the kind of mindset, the kind of narrative, that is so deeply woven into the North Korean psyche. And I think that we have to understand that, as people in the United States, as a starting point to understand why in the six-party talks, why in the bilateral negotiations with North Korea, North Korea so desperately wants to build a relationship, and then they want to de-nuclearize, whereas the Obama, the Clinton, the Bush administrations have always viewed those fora to just disarm North Korea. And North Korea says, you know, “That’s not good enough. We need to have normalized relations. We need to have a peace treaty.” And that has been their stance, you know, starting from Kim Il-sung—

AMY GOODMAN: Christine Ahn—

CHRISTINE AHN : —through Kim Jong-il, and—yes.

AMY GOODMAN: As we continue our coverage of the death of Kim Jong-il, we wanted to look at his human rights legacy and what may lay ahead for his 29-year-old son Kim Jong-un, as he prepares to take power.


Kim Jong-Il's Natural Death Typical for Dictators

The death by natural causes of Kim Jong-Il highlights a possibly unpleasant truth about repressive dictators: Many, if not most, end up living long lives and dying peacefully.

Those who live by the sword don't necessarily die by it, according to "The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History's 100 Worst Atrocities" (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011). In it, Matthew White tracked the fates of the leaders most responsible for the 100-deadliest human events. A majority, he found, lived out their natural life spans in peace.

"About 60 percent of the individual oppressors and warmongers who were most responsible for each of these multicides lived happily ever after," White wrote.

For every Moammar Gadhafi killed in the streets by angry citizens, there is a Joseph Stalin, dead at 74 of a stroke. According to White, 49 percent of those responsible for the major massacres of history ruled until their deaths by natural causes. Another 11 percent enjoyed a peaceful retirement, while 8 percent were exiled before natural causes took their last breaths.

Of those whose ends were not as pleasant or natural, 9 percent were put on trial and executed, 8 percent were assassinated, 7 percent died in battle, 4 percent were imprisoned and 4 percent committed suicide. [How 13 of the Worst Dictators Died]

Kim Jong-Il died at age 69 of a heart attack Dec. 17, according to North Korea state television.

Perhaps the lengthy lives have to do with the spoils of leadership, as studies of U.S. presidents show that despite the stresses of being in charge, these men live just as long or longer than their contemporaries.

Mass Mourning

When dictators do die of natural causes, they rarely seem to take advantage of the warning signs of age and debilitation, according to Robert Gellately, a professor of history at Florida State University.

"The communist countries, from Lenin on, have prided themselves on being modern, but the one thing they never figured out is how to manage the transition when the leader passes away," Gellately told LiveScience. "Usually what happens is the leader, when they start to get ill … they talk about who might be suitable to replace them but they invariably point to all the flaws. They don't embrace mortality easily."

The result, Gellately said, is often a behind-the-scenes power struggle. It's not easy for outside observers to tell who is in charge, he said. When Stalin came to power in the 1920s, he said, foreign heads of state were flummoxed as to who really was pulling the strings &mdash ironic, Gellately said, because historians would later realize that Stalin made "absolutely every decision."

Stalin's death, in fact, might show some parallels to the death of Kim Jong-Il, Gellately said. Despite Stalin's repression, he was widely mourned.

"There was an enormous outpouring of sorrow, even in the Gulag," Gellately said. "There were prisoners who cried."

Likewise, video footage from North Korea shows citizens weeping openly in factories and streets.

"It's hard to know if it's genuine sorrow or if it's uncertainty about the future," Gellately said. "The motives of why people are moved are infinite, but it's an interesting phenomenon."

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience y en Facebook.


Death of Kim Jong Il - HISTORY

North Korean history holds many secrets. How and when did Kim Il Sung decide to make his son his heir? Was a colossal explosion at the Ryongchon station in 2004 an assassination attempt on Kim Jong Il and, if so, who was behind it? We do not know answers to these questions and are unlikely to get any while the DPRK exists.

But perhaps the strangest event in North Korean history was a message transmitted in November 1986 declaring Kim Il Sung to have died, over eight years before his actual death in July 1994.

North Korean history holds many secrets. How and when did Kim Il Sung decide to make his son his heir? Was a colossal explosion at the Ryongchon station in 2004 an assassination attempt on Kim Jong Il and, if so, who was behind it? We do not know answers to these questions and are unlikely to get any while the DPRK exists.

But perhaps the strangest event in North Korean history was a message transmitted in November 1986 declaring Kim Il Sung to have died, over eight years before his actual death in July 1994.


Kim Jong-il's death brings end to era of cruelty, mystery

'Dear Leader' Kim Jong-il's death ends 17 years of leadership defined by oppression, bizarre stories of grandeur, and tensions with the West over its nuclear program.

Kim Jong-il’s death at the age of 69 ended an era of profligacy and harshness that included reports of both his wild living in his many mansions and stories from defectors of extreme cruelty in a gulag system to which 200,000 people were constantly consigned.

The report of the demise of the man known as North Korea’s “dear leader” – who reportedly imported cognac along with Swedish hostesses and dined on fine food dished up by a Japanese chef who dedicated a special brand of sushi to him – confirmed speculation that he had been seriously ill for awhile.

Kim Jong-il was born in 1941 or 1942 near the Soviet Siberian city of Khabarosk while his father, the long-ruling Kim Il-sung, was an officer in the Red Army. However, most North Koreans never heard the truth about Kim Jong-il's origins. They were told that he was born in a cabin on Mount Paektu, the highest peak on the Korean peninsula, straddling the North Korean-Chinese border. As he was born, rainbows appeared in the heavens, according to the story put out by the propaganda machine that his father built over the years after he was sent by the Russians to Korea on a merchant ship following the Japanese surrender in August 1945.

Kim Jong-il was widely reported to have suffered a stroke in August 2008 and afterward disappeared from public view for several months while recovering. In the past two years his health appeared to greatly improve, and he went on regular inspection tours of military installations, factories, farms, and markets, generally accompanied by his son Kim Jong-un, who is poised to succeed him.

In fact, Kim Jong-il was last photographed on such a tour two days before his death, looking in good health – prompting speculation that he might actually have been assassinated.

“Pyongyang took two days to announce the death,” says Han Sung-joo, who was foreign minister when North Korea and the US agreed in Geneva on a plan for the North to halt its nuclear program in exchange for construction of two nuclear energy reactors. “They are trying to put up a face that is orderly and united.”

But, “we are not sure whether it was foul play or natural,” says Mr. Han, adding that “I don’t think North Korea was prepared” and “I don’t believe we can rule out anything.”

A female television announcer dressed in traditional black Hanbok attire burst into tears on Pyongyang television when she repeated the announcement that he had died “from fatigue and hard work” that caused a heart attack.

Both before and after he took over full power following his father's death in July 1994 – in the midst of a nuclear crisis that would be repeated throughout his 17 years in power – he was credited with achievements that went far beyond credibility.

Among the most dubious was the claim that he shot a hole in one on his first swing at a golf course and that he repeated the feat on numerous occasions. He also, in his younger days, was extremely interested in developing the North Korean film industry – so much so that he ordered the kidnapping in 1978 of a South Korean actress and her director husband from Hong Kong to work on North Korean films. The pair escaped to the US embassy in Vienna in 1986 after he allowed them to go there to attend a film festival.

Kim Jong-il rose to power initially as general secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party, long before the death of his father. But it was his positions as chairman of the national defense commission and commander of the armed forces that he used to exercise his unquestioned rule over his people and also to confront South Korea and the United States.

His legacy was his program for turning North Korea into a nuclear power while developing short-range, mid-range and finally long-range missiles with a potential to someday reach targets as distant as Alaska and Hawaii.

Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, reported that North Korea tested a missile Monday, probably before the announcement of Kim Jong-il’s death. North Korea exported short and mid-range missiles to clients ranging from Libya under Muammar Qaddafi to Iran, Syria, and Yemen.

North Korea’s claim to be a nuclear power rested on underground nuclear tests conducted in October 2006 and again in May 2009. The first test was believed to have been a disappointment, but the second demonstrated the North’s ability to explode a nuclear device successfully. The North Korean missile tests came during an impasse in six-party talks hosted by China beginning in 2005 and last held in Beijing in December 2008.

Nonetheless, Kim Jong-il raised high hopes for rapprochement on the Korean peninsula when he hosted South Korea’s president, Kim Da-jung, at the first North-South summit in June 2000. The summit produced a document committing the two leader to bringing about reconciliation beginning with reunions of members of the millions of families divided by the Korean War.

The spirit of the summit evaporated, however, with the revelation in October 2002 that North Korea also was working on a program for developing nuclear warheads from highly enriched uranium. North Korea had suspended production of warheads with plutonium at their core under the 1994 agreement.

Kim Jong-il also hosted Kim Dae-jung’s successor, Roh Moo-hyun, at a summit in October 2007, but North Korea’s hostility grew after the conservative Lee Myung-bak was elected South Korean president two months later and quickly cut off food aid to North Korea, saying the North should first stop its nuclear program. American nuclear physicist Sigfried Hecker, after seeing the uranium facility, said he was “stunned” at how advanced the program was.

The tragic downside was that North Korea’s nuclear program cost billions of dollars while severely sapping the economy. While Kim Jong-il appeared to sometimes entertain the idea of limited economic reforms, he basically could not tolerate free enterprise while many North Koreans survived only by clandestine free market activities.

La calidad de vida de Corea del Norte alcanzó su nivel más bajo a mediados de la década de 1990, cuando el país sufrió una hambruna que costó hasta 2 millones de vidas por inanición y enfermedades. Desde entonces, Corea del Norte ha atravesado períodos de profunda angustia económica. Millones siguen desnutridos y padecen enfermedades, mientras que el país mantiene una maquinaria militar de más de un millón de soldados.

Sin embargo, el sueño de Kim Jong-il era convertir a Corea del Norte en "una nación fuerte y próspera" a tiempo para una celebración nacional el próximo mes de abril para conmemorar el centenario del nacimiento de su padre.