North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died at the age of 69, the country’s state-run TV officially announced Monday.
Kim died on a train at 8.30 a.m. on Saturday while taking part in a visit to an area outside the country’s capital city, the announcement reported.
A statement was read out by an emotional news announcer, who was wearing black, on North Korea’s national television service. The announcer explained that the dictator died on Saturday of physical and mental “overwork.” However, a later report released by KCNA has claimed that Kim died of a heart attack.
The North Korean leader has led the communist country since the death of his father, Kim Il-sung, in 1994. He has been in poor health since 2008 when he suffered a stroke.
In recent months, Kim had kept himself out of the public eye, leading to rumors of his deteriorating health.
Commentators have long believed that Kim's third son, Kim Jong-un, will take over his father's position. Kim Jong-un is believed to be in his late 20s, and started his career as a four-star general. In recent years he has been given more official duties by his father.
North Korea's state-run news agency, KCNA, indeed announced that the country’s people are now to unite behind Kim Jong-un.
The announcement stated: "All party members, military men and the public should faithfully follow the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-un and protect and further strengthen the unified front of the party, military and the public.”
The announcement also added that the funeral for Kim will be held in Pyongyang on Dec. 28, and that Kim Jong-un will head the funeral committee.
According to the Yonhap news agency, South Korea has put its military on high alert following the announcement in preparation for any potential reaction from its unpredictable neighbor.
The South Korean National Security Council is also convening an emergency meeting.