It's being reported Kim Jong-Il, the 69-year-old North Korean dictator who often dominated news headlines for his defiance of United Nations sanctions, has died from fatigue, according to a statement from the North Korean government.
During a train ride, Jong-Il "passed away from a great mental and physical strain", the Korean Central News Agency reported, as Yonhap News published. While the cause of death is being called fatigue in some reports, other media cite a sudden heart attack as the reason from the North Korean leader's death.
Kim suffered a stroke in August 2008 and may have also contracted pancreatic cancer, according to South Korean news reports, Bloomberg writes.
The funeral has been set for Dec. 28 in Pyongyang.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on Monday "placed all military units on emergency alert following the news of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death," Yonhap wrote.
This sudden news came as North Korea prepares for a hereditary succession, MSNBC writes. "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."
Jong-Il had been in power in North Korea since 1994. During his tenure, he oversaw the collapse of the North Korean economy. As the L.A. Times writes, "While rival South Korea became one of the world’s wealthiest nations, many in the North have earned less than a dollar a month."