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South Korea: North Korean Dictator, Kim Jong Il Is Dead

Kim Jong Il, the North Korean dictator who ruled the hermit kingdom for the past three decades, has died at the age of 69. According to North Korean state television's official report on Monday, Kim passed away from “mental and physical strain” during a train ride on December 17, 2011.

The South Korean Twittersphere erupted with various responses. Although the death of one of the world's most notorious dictators is something people might welcome, most South Koreans have expressed concern about the instability his sudden death might bring to Korean peninsula.

The South Korean public's initial response to the news was pure shock. Son Byung-gwan(@sonkiza), a reporter from the South Korean citizen media site Ohmynews, tweeted [ko]:

북한, 김정일 사망 속보… 너무 큰 뉴스라서 편집국도 어리둥절

North Korea reported a breaking story on Kim Jong-il's death. The story is such a huge news even our company's ‘news desk’ was bewildered.

Image of Kim Jong-il Kim Gil-su (@yourKGStweeted [ko]:

김정일 사망 소식에 속이 후련한 것보다 걱정이 앞네요. 나이가 들어서인가봐요.

Instead of feeling relieved, I feel concerned by the news on Kim Jong-il's death. It is probably because I am an old man.

Many on Twitter also worried that the ongoing allegations of election fraud by the ruling party would be eclipsed by the news. @photo_jjang tweeted [ko]:

모든 언론사 홈페이지에 올라온 김정일 사망소식 뉴스…. 그 밑에 이슈들은 다 묻히는겁니다

On all media companies’ homepages, Kim Jong-il's death made headlines… which means all the other issues (displayed below that news) will be ignored.

After the initial wave of shock, many on Twitter started blaming the South Korean government for its slow reaction. It is believed that they had no clue about Kim's death for over 50 hours. For now, South Korean President Lee has ordered a state of emergency. Barry Lee (@barry_leetweeted [ko]:

김정일이 죽은게 17일인데 이명박은 17, 18일에 방일을 했군요.정말 몰랐다면 정보력이 개판이라는 소리고 알고도 다녀왔다면 위기 대응 능력이 개판이라는 소리군요. [...]

Kim died on Dec 17. And President Lee Myung-bak was visiting Japan from Dec 17 to 18. If President Lee had not really heard the news, that means the South Korean government's intelligence is really awful. Or if he had known about the news, that would mean he is really lousy at risk-management.

South Korea's Twitter timeline was filled with speculations on the future of North Korea and its impact on the peace of Korean peninsula.Twitterer CafeVine (@CafeVine) tweeted[ko]:

가장 큰 불안요소는 북한 군부의 소요 가능성이 아니라 주변 강대국의 정치 계산에 의한 움직임과 북한 민중의 반응이 아닐까 싶다. 북한 군부가 흐트러지는 틈을 타 대규모 탈북 움직임이 일어난다면… 위험하다.

The elements which cause great instability are NOT the chance of commotion within the North Korean military, BUT the change of political situation of Korean peninsula by adjacent strong countries’ moves and also reactions by the North Korean citizen. What if there is a sudden increase of North Korean defectors because its military has become unstable? That can be dangerous.

@trimutri100 expressed concern over North Korea's inexperienced, 27-year-old heir, Kim Jong-un:

북한은 진정 큰일이구나. 그 햇병아리가 정권을 제대로 인수할리도 없고, 차라리 김정남이 긴급 호출되는게 아닐까?

North Korea is in real crisis. That fledgling (referring to Kim Jong-un) would never be able to smoothly succeed the regime… Is there a chance they would send an emergency call for help to Kim Jung-nam [the eldest son of Kim Jong-il]?

Later he expressed the opinion [ko] that the fact the news was broken by North Korea's state media means that situation is fairly under control:

북한이 발표를 했다는 건, 권력구도가 최소한 어느 정도는 교통정리가 되었다는 이야기다. 문제는, 그게 누구냐는거다.

The fact that the North Korea announced the news means that the power transition has taken a fairly good shape. But the remaining problem here is WHO has taken the power…

Follow Global Voices (@globalvoices)  for more updates.

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