Kim Jong Il, who has led the communist nation since his father died in 1994, has died at age 69. According to reports he died while on a train ride on Saturday. North Korea’s State News Agency, KCNA, has called dead leader Kim Jong Il’s son Jong Un a “great successor” in what appears to be the first such mention of the late leader’s youngest known son, who had been groomed to take over power.
United States James Carney –
We are closely monitoring reports that Kim Jong-il is dead. The President has been notified, and we are in close touch with our allies in South Korea and Japan.
We remain committed to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies.
China Liu Weimin, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman
We were distressed to learn of the unfortunate passing of the senior-most North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and we express our grief about this and extend our condolences to the people of North Korea. Comrade Kim Jong-il was the great leader of the North Korean people and a close friend of the Chinese people. He made important contributions to the development of socialism in North Korea, and the development of friendly, neighbourly and co-operative relations between China and North Korea. We hope the two countries could carry on working together for peace in the Korean peninsula.
South Korea President Lee Myung-bak
President Lee urged the public to go about their usual economic activities without turbulence.
The two leaders (President Lee Myung-bak and President Barack Obama) agreed to closely co-operate and monitor the situation together.
Japan (Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda,
I have ordered officials to beef up intelligence-gathering on North Korea, to work closely with the United States, China and South Korea, and to prepare for further unexpected developments. We will gather information to assess how this incident will affect the situation. I have instructed (agencies) to prepare even for the unexpected to ensure this will not adversely influence peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
German Foreign Ministry Statement
This is of course a chance for things to change there but our expectations remain the same: that North Korea gives up its nuclear programme, that the catastrophic social situation of its own people improves and that it declares itself ready to open up in the political and economic spheres. Whoever takes over power must assume responsibility for improving the desperate situation of the people there. There is a clearly untenable situation with two Korean states.
Alain Juppe, French Foreign Minister
We are very watchful of the consequences of this succession, hoping that one day the people of North Korea will be able to find freedom. The death of a man is never something to be cheered, but it is the sad suffering of a people that is important. North Korea is a completely closed regime, one of the very last (Communist) regimes on the planet. There is a process of dialogue with North Korea that has highs and lows. This dialogue must continue, with China and the other participants, so that North Korea renounces its nuclear weapons.
William Hague, British Foreign Minister
The people of North Korea are in official mourning after the death of Kim Jong-il. We understand this is a difficult time for them.
This could be a turning point for North Korea. We hope that their new leadership will recognise that engagement with the international community offers the best prospect of improving the lives of ordinary North Korean people.
We encourage North Korea to work for peace and security in the region and take the steps necessary to allow the resumption of the Six Party Talks on de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
Kevin Rudd, Australian Foreign Minister
Two critical points need to be emphasised at this important time.
The first is that all governments, including the government of North Korea, should at this time be exercising maximum calm and restraint both in terms of what they do and in their diplomatic signalling. It is at times like this that we cannot afford to have any wrong or ambiguous signalling.
This time also presents an important opportunity to the new North Korean leadership to engage fully with the international community on how to improve their economy in order to properly feed their people and critically on how to deal with the outstanding problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
The political succession in North Korea is uncertain. It will be difficult to read in the immediate days ahead precisely what will transpire in terms of the future of the North Korean leadership.
Jason Kenney, Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration via Twitter
“Let us hope that the North Korean people will soon be freed from the Communist prison in which they have been captive for six decades.”
Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister
Moscow expects that Kim Jong-il’s death won’t affect friendly ties between Russia and North Korea.
Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign Minister via Twitter
The death of a dictator is always a period of uncertainty for a dictatorship. And North Korea is the hardest dictatorship in our time.
Don Manzullo, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on East Asia
Kim Jong-Il was the epitome of evil, a dictator of the worst kind who ruled his country with an iron fist and dished out constant pain and misery to his people.
We hope his passing will mark a new chapter for North Korea. This is an opportunity for North Korea to emerge from its cycle of oppression and walk down a new path toward democracy.
Meanwhile, experts and analysts from around the world have weighed in on the long-time leader’s death and the impact it will have on North Korea, South Korea and the world:
ZHANG LIANGUI, EXPERT ON NORTH KOREA, THE CENTRAL PARTY SCHOOL, BEIJING:
“I think it’s ultimately good news.”
“I think it’s good news, because North Korea will finally have to change. Whether those changes will be for the better or the worse, we’ll have to wait and see. But there’s no doubt that change is needed and inevitable.”
“There might be intense power struggles before the situation stabilizes, and only then will any changes in foreign policy become clear.
”I’d estimate that process will take six months to a year.“ Toronto Sun