Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 1:03 pm
There's certainly already been a lot said about North Korea's Kim Jong Il. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has an obit and Planet Money has a recap of how North Korea's economy is fueled by drug dealing and smuggling of counterfeit goods.
It's been two years since Kim Jong Un effectively became North Korea's "Great Successor" and heir to the seat of power in the communist nation run by a family dynasty — a dynasty that began with his grandfather, Kim Il Sung (the "Great Leader") and continued with his father, Kim Jong Il (the "Dear Leader").
But in that time about the only new thing we know is that he's two years older and now thought to be in his late 20s. And, that he appears about to become at least the titular head of an impoverished nation that threatens its richer neighbor to the south with nuclear weapons
Kim, whose official age was 69 but who actually was 70, died Saturday of a heart attack, according to North Korean state media.
He leaves behind a pretty much officially designated heir, his son Kim Jong Un, whose age is about 29. The young man has been given exalted titles including full general but has little experience compared with what his father had under his belt when Kim Jong Il's own father and predecessor, Kim Il Sung, died in 1994.