Kim Jong Il, North Korea's mercurial and enigmatic leader whose iron rule and nuclear ambitions dominated world security fears for more than a decade, has died of heart failure. He was 69.
In a "special broadcast" today (Monday) from the North Korean capital, state media said Kim died of a heart ailment on a train due to a "great mental and physical strain" on Dec. 17 during a "high intensity field inspection." It said an autopsy was done on Dec. 18 and "fully confirmed" the diagnosis.
A spokesperson at the Unification Ministry confirmed to NBC News that Kim died on Saturday.
In September 2010, Kim Jong Il introduced his third son, the twenty-something Kim Jong Un, as his successor, putting him in high-ranking posts.
NBC's Julie Yoo reported that South Korea put its military on alert and President Lee Myung-bak convened a national security council meeting after the news of Kim's death.