In this totalitarian government, even the dictator’s Age was subject to revision.
From GlobalSecurity.org: Kim Jong Il (a.k.a. Yuri Irsenovich Kim) was born on 16 February 1941 in Khabarovsk, USSR, the eldest son of Kim Il Sung and his first wife, Kim Jong Suk. The year of his birth has subsequently been changed to 1942 to make a more convenient 30-year age difference between himself and his father, and the place of his birth was altered to become a secret camp on Mt. Paektu in Samjiyon County, Ryanggang Province.
In his life, he was known as “Supreme Leader”, “Dear Leader” and “our Father” in the legendarily repressive country of North Korea.
Kim Il Sung began gradually preparing Kim Jong Il as heir apparent since 1971. (ibid)
Kim Jong-un, the third and youngest son of Kim Jong-il with his late consort Ko Young-hee has been groomed as his fathers dictatorial heir. His eldest half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, had been the favorite to succeed, but reportedly fell out of favour after 2001, when he was caught attempting to enter Japan on a fake passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland. (source: Wikipedia)
Sinking of a naval vessel and shelling of South Korean territory in the past months has illustrated the bellicose tendencies of the North Korean government. The People of North Korea are known to be starving and humanitarian aid seems to continue as 6-party talks have been sought to keep the powder keg that is North Korea from causing regional havoc in the far East.
All activities in North Korea are not Just under the lens of the repressive dictatorial government, but that North Korea is a rogue nuclear power, with a weapons arsenal under development as the population starves.
News reports indicate more humanitarian aid from the U.S. (in the form of Food). Whether today’s news (December 19th in North Korea) will impact those negotiations for better or worse seems unknown.
The actions of Russia and China over the coming days are under careful scrutiny.
China has significant trade linkages and shared history during warfare with North Korea. However, the North Korean government is know to maintain an independence of action.
At present, North Korean news agencies are reporting that funeral services are scheduled for December 28th.
The US response to the change in North Korea’s government has not yet been announced, but the actions of South Korea and Japan will be a critical part of that calculus.