WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS Washington D.C.) — North Korean television networks are reporting that supreme leader Kim Jong Il died Saturday morning.
Several news organizations in the embattled region are reporting that Kim died of “overwork,” CNN reports.
Though Kim had suffered a stroke in 2008, he was seen traveling to other points in the world in a series of characteristically choreographed public appearances.
According to CBS News, Kim passed away as the country prepared for a hereditary succession. Earlier this year, his third son, Kim Jong Un, was presented as his intended successor.
Kim officially assumed control in July of 1944, when his father, Kim Il-sung, died of a heart attack at age 82.
Kim was a leader shrouded in secrecy, much like the Communist nation over which he governed for almost 20 years. As such, not much is known about Kim’s life, besides his dedication to North Korea’s military regime – often at the cost of the well-being of the country’s citizenship.
Even his date of birth is disputed, with North Korean records stating it happened in 1942, while Soviet records claim 1941.
His rule has been controversial, often garnering international political and media scrutiny for harsh treatment of citizens and visitors alike.
The months-long imprisonment of American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee in March of 2009 especially shed light on the excessively protective approach toward domestic security taken by the North Korean military.
The nuclear component of his reign has especially come under fire.
Kim tested nuclear weapons in possession of the North Korean military on multiple occasions in 2006 and 2009, seemingly broadcasting to other world superpowers the arsenal of weaponry available to his regime.
His military was – and is – often at odds with other nations of the world, including bordering South Korea.