After Kim Jong-il's Death, North Korea Marks Hereditary Passage of Power

Uploaded by PBSNewsHour on 19.12.2011

bjbjLULU JEFFREY BROWN: North Korea marked the passing of power today to a scion of the
same family that's ruled unchallenged since World War II. Official media reported Kim
Jong-il had died after 17 years in power, bequeathing the communist country to his youngest
son. As state television reported it, word of Kim's death affected everyone, from the
news reader, to officials depicted as sobbing at the moment they heard the news, to ordinary
people shown grieving on the streets of Pyongyang for the Dear Leader. WOMAN (through translator):
He loved us so much that, once, he came here in the freezing weather and walked all the
way up to the third floor. He asked us to work hard to feed the nation. JEFFREY BROWN:
The regime reported the 69-year-old Kim Jong-il died early Saturday after suffering a heart
attack as he toured the country by train. He had suffered a stroke in 2008. Kim took
over the leadership in 1994 on the death of his father, Kim Il-Sung, the founder of modern-day
North Korea known as the Great Leader. Both men ruled an isolated, hard-line communist
state with few allies. China, though, has long been among them. And, in Beijing today,
a Foreign Ministry spokesman praised Kim's memory. LIU WEIMIN, Chinese Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (through translator): He made important contributions to developing North Korea's
socialist cause and promoting good neighborly and cooperative relations between China and
North Korea. We believe the North Korean people will definitely be able to turn sorrow into
strength and remain united as one to continuously push forward their socialist cause. JEFFREY
BROWN: Kim had ruled for 17 years, appearing in public with -- and sometimes satirized
outside the country for -- his bouffant hairdo, platform shoes and jumpsuits. He was said
to have a taste for Western films and cognac. But there was a very dark side, repression
of all dissent, and, like his father, Kim continued a military-first policy, with 1.2
million troops under arms. North Korea periodically showed off missile launches, including one
even today. And Kim's pursuit of nuclear weapons kept the world on edge, especially after 2006,
when the North conducted the first of two underground test explosions. Last year, a
conventional weapons clash drove the two Koreas to the brink, after the North sank the South
Korean warship Cheonan, killing 46 sailors, and then fired on a South Korean island. Today,
on word of Kim's death, South Korea's military went on high alert, and the Seoul government
called emergency Cabinet meetings. PARK JEONG-HA, South Korean Presidential Office (through
translator): Peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula is the first priority for the future
of South Korea. This situation shouldn't be a threat to peace and stability in the Korean
Peninsula. In order to maintain stability, we must be thoroughly prepared. JEFFREY BROWN:
American troops in South Korea didn't go on higher alert, but Kim's death could delay
U.S. decisions to re-engage the North on ending its nuclear program and on providing new food
aid. Under Kim, North Korea has been chronically unable to feed its population of 23 million.
A famine in the late 1990s reportedly killed more than 200,000. And, afterward, more North
Koreans began trying to escape the repressive regime. The problem has only marginally improved.
The country still relies heavily on food aid, and many children are malnourished. In Washington
today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced hope for improved relations after meeting
with the Japanese foreign minister. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: We both share
a common interest in a peaceful and stable transition in North Korea, as well as in ensuring
regional peace and stability. We reiterate our hope for improved relations with the people
of North Korea and remain deeply concerned about their well-being. JEFFREY BROWN: Part
of any such hope will depend on Kim's chosen successor, his youngest son, Kim Jong-un,
who was proclaimed as a -- quote -- "great successor to his father." The younger Kim
is believed to be in his late 20s. Last year, he was made a four-star general and vice chairman
of a key commission in the ruling Workers party -- Kim Jong-un's first major task: overseeing
the state funeral for his father scheduled for Dec. 28. urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags
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PlaceName urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags PlaceType JEFFREY BROWN: North Korea marked
the passing of power today to a scion of the same family that's ruled unchallenged since
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of power today to a scion of the same family that's ruled unchallenged since World War
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