North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack on December 17. His death was announced yesterday. Succession planning for Kim Jong Il began after he suffered a serious stroke in 2008. In preparation for the eventual day when he has passed on, Kim Jong Il last year anointed his youngest of three sons, Kim Jong Un, believed to be in his late 20s, to take over the mantle of power. Kim Jong Il also promoted his sister Kim Kyong hui and her husband, Chang Sung Taek, to senior political and military posts, both of whom will play a role in the transition. Chang Sung Taek could serve as form of regent while the younger Kim gains experience. Kim Jong Il and his family engineered these promotions to ward off any possible coup attempt after Kim’s death by military leaders.
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