CNS Feature Stories

Special articles and reports on timely nonproliferation issues by CNS staff.
Updated: Dec 20, 2011

Passing of North Korea's Kim Jong-il

DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il has died. CNS experts on North Korea are available for comment on the impact of Kim's passing.
Author(s): CNS Staff

Posted: December 18, 2011

North Korean state-run media reported that Kim Jong-il, Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), died on December 17 of heart failure at 8:30 AM local time. KCNA stated that Kim "suffered an advanced acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a serious heart shock, on [a] train on December 17, Juche 100 (2011) for a great mental and physical strain caused by his uninterrupted field guidance tour for the building of a thriving nation."

Kim's third son, Kim Jong-un, is expected to succeed him as head of state. Kim Jong-un was introduced on October 10, 2010 to both domestic and international audiences when he oversaw a military parade that also displayed three never-before-seen missile systems. The younger Kim was also promoted to the rank of General (대장) in the Korean People's Army and Deputy Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Worker's Party in the days before the parade. His position on foreign policy, inter-Korean affairs, and the North's nuclear program is unknown, raising many questions about the path for the DPRK in a post-Kim Jong-il era.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 and revealed a uranium enrichment program to U.S. scientists in 2010. Satellite imagery from November 2011 revealed that construction on a new light water reactor at Yongbyon is ongoing. North Korea is also developing short-, intermediate-, and intercontinental- range ballistic missiles, and maintains a small number of cruise missiles. While the DPRK has yet to successfully test its Taepodong-2 ICBM, it recently completed a new missile base at Tongchang-dong, which is equipped for testing of missile systems of an even greater range.

Relevant Past Analysis from CNS Experts

Jeffrey Lewis and Elbridge Colby, How to Worry Kim Jong-il,The Diplomat, September 23, 2011

Melissa Hanham, Catherine Boye and Seungho Lee, Missiles, Maneuvers and Mysteries: Review of Recent Developments in North Korea, CNS Feature Story, November 2, 2010

Melissa Hanham, Impact of the Cheonan Incident on the Six-Party Talks, Nuclear Threat Initiative Issue Brief, May 17, 2010

North Korea (DPRK) Special Collection

North Korea (DPRK) Special Collection
All CNS nonproliferation content related to North Korea, including its ongoing nuclear crisis.
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