The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

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North Korean President Kim Jong Il is Dead

Posted by vmsalama on December 19, 2011

Breaking news this Sunday night that North Korea’s president since July 8, 1994, Kim Jong Il, suffered a massive heart attack that took his life. State TV anchor was overcome with emotion as she delivered the news. The “dear leader” suffered multiple health problems for several years and his death has been long anticipated. He died Saturday morning at the age of 69, according to State TV. His youngest son Kim Jong un — who is believed to be about 27 or 28 years old, is the presumed successor. I visited North Korea – aka the Hermit Kingdom – briefly in 2007. It is a surreal place. Extremely bizarre but one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever been. I also spent several weeks on a special fellowship in South Korea where I had the privilege of meeting a number of senior government and military officials. North and South Korea never signed a formal peace treaty after the Korean War, which ended in 1953, so there are very tense days ahead for the South Koreans. The country declared an emergency alert until the situation in North Korea stabilizes. North Korea is a nuclear state and was among the countries labeled an “axis of evil” by former US President George W. Bush. Very interesting days ahead.

Here’s an interesting still shot of North Korean state tv announcing the death of Kim Jong Il’s father, Kim Il Sung, in 1994. (thanks @ckanal)

The New York Times now has a full obit online complete with slideshow.

Here is the blog post I wrote (with pics) shortly after my trip in 2007. I will try to add a few more photos soon since it will likely be trending for the next few days.

Here is an article I wrote on Kumgang Mountain for the World Politics Review.

Photo by Vivian Salama

Close-up of the pin worn by all of our "guides" in North Korea/Photo by Vivian Salama



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