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Kim Jong Il's dominating personality and complete concentration of power has come to define the country North Korea.
Kim Jong-il - Mini Biography (4:31)
Kim Jong-un's Secret Life (1:19)
Known as North Korea's "Dear Leader," Kim Jong-Il succeeded his father as the country's premier in 1994, and led the communist party until his death in 2001.
Kim Jong-un’s entire life has been shrouded in mystery since his birth. And one of the many questions surrounding his life was the identity of a woman who accompanied him in 2012.
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It was also noted that Kim hadn't made a public appearance for the Olympic torch ceremony in Pyongyang in April 2008. After Kim failed to show up for a military parade celebrating North Korea's 60th anniversary, U.S. intelligence agencies believed Kim to be gravely ill after possibly suffering a stroke. During the fall of 2008,
numerous news sources gave conflicting reports on his condition. The North Korean news agency reported Kim participated in national elections in March 2009 and was unanimously elected to a seat in the Supreme People's Assembly, the North Korean parliament. The assembly will vote later to confirm him as chairman of the National Defense Commission. In the report, it was said Kim cast his ballot at the Kim Il Sung University and later toured the facility and talked to a small group of people.
Kim's health was watched closely by other countries because of his volatile nature, the country's possession of nuclear weapons, and its precarious economic condition. Kim also had no apparent successors to his regime, as did his father. His three sons spent most of their lives outside the country and none seemed to be in the favor of the "Dear Leader" to ascend to the top spot. Many international experts believed that when Kim died, there would be mayhem because there seemed to be no apparent method for a transfer of power. But due to the North Korean government's predilection for secrecy, this was too hard to know.
In 2009, however, news reports revealed that Kim planned to name his son, Kim Jong Un as his successor. Very little was known about Kim's heir apparent; until 2010, only one officially confirmed photo of Jong Un existed, and not even his official birthdate had been revealed. The twenty-something was officially confirmed in September 2010.
Kim Jon-Il died December 17, 2011, of a heart attack while traveling on a train. Media reports say the leader was on a work trip for official duties. Upon news of The Dear Leader's death, North Koreans marched on the capital, weeping and mourning.
Kim is said to be survived by three wives, three sons and three daughters. Other reports claim he has fathered 70 children, most of whom are housed in villas throughout North Korea.
His son, Kim Jong Un, is reported to take up leadership, and the military pledged to support Jong Un's succession.
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