Kim Jong's death: South Koreans fearful

2011-12-19 07:55

Seoul - News of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il hit South Koreans like a bolt from the blue on Monday with fears of conflict after it sparked a military alert along the heavily fortified border.

"I'm speechless," Kwak Bo-Ram, 24, an NGO official told AFP. "I'm just shocked and worried at the same time.

"It was always a rumour before, not a confirmed report," she told AFP, referring to occasional rumours which surfaced in recent years.

A weeping black-clad announcer on the North's state television announced that the 69-year-old died of a heart attack while on a train during a field inspection visit.

The television and the official Korean Central News Agency urged people to follow Kim's youngest son and heir apparent Kim Jong-Un, who is in his late 20s.

"I'm worried there will be a war. I thought it wasn't true at first," said Song Bo-Na, 22, a university student.

What now

Kim took over after his own father Kim Il-Sung died in 1994. Despite a stroke in August 2008, photos and TV footage had appeared to show him in better health in recent months.

"I hadn't much imagined what it would be like when Kim Jong-Il died, but now he has. I'm shocked and I'm very interested in what will happen from now on," said housewife Byun Mi-Sook.

Businessman Kim Sung-Il, 49, expressed expectations that North Korea would change after its leader's death.

"The death will be, and should be, the trigger for changes in and out of North Korea," he said.

Another businessman, Ko Jae-Lin, 50, also said he hopes for changes. "I think North Korea will now open up much sooner than speculated before," said Ko.

The North's regime had been resisting pressure from its ally China to free up the state-directed economy for fear of losing control.

Online reaction unrestrained

Relations with the South's conservative government have been frosty since 2008.

University student Kim Lee-Soo, 21, said South Koreans and their government should "stay calm and try to respond appropriately, as this will have a huge influence in the South's stance in international society".

Internet reaction was less restrained.

"No one should pay respects to the dead," said user Lim Jung-Min on the Nate portal.

"I wish myocardial infarction and heart attacks were genetic and run in the family," said another user, Kwon So-Young.

After the announcement, the North declared a period of national mourning from December 17 to 29.

South Korea's government went on emergency footing after the shock news and summoned a meeting of the National Security Council.

North and South Korea have remained technically at war since the three-year Korean conflict ended only in an armistice in 1953.

"Monitoring and security around border areas has been strengthened. We are paying close attention to any movements by the North's military," a defence ministry spokesperson told AFP.

  • The Real Unskinny - 2011-12-19 08:10

    One less dinner guest for Mugabe

      Squeegee - 2011-12-19 08:37

      We also have a madman running a country to the north of us. Unlike South Korea, our madman has no military to speak of. Thank goodness.

      Paul - 2011-12-19 09:05

      And for Zoomer.

      Dirk - 2011-12-19 09:09

      Good riddance, dictator and mass murderer. No doubt, the ANC regime and a few here will be in mourning

  • Colin - 2011-12-19 08:10

    Impoverished millions and yet they have a nuclear arsenal. It is estimated that three million North Koreans have died from mal nurishment in the last four years and yet they have invested in the ability to be a part of a nuclear offensive ?

  • Preshen - 2011-12-19 08:11

    Why are North Korea and South Korea fighting when they are both Chinees?

      Dirk - 2011-12-19 08:18


      Garth - 2011-12-19 08:27

      @preshen - what a foolish, idiotic remark.

      GoodFella - 2011-12-19 08:28

      Preshen. Are you still babelaased?! Koreans and Chinese are innately two differently races!

      raegan.mcreed - 2011-12-19 08:41

      preshen stop watching too much porn....

      Daniel - 2011-12-19 08:56

      It's a joke idiots!

      Koos - 2011-12-19 09:09

      We are all ONE human race.

  • Tshidiso - 2011-12-19 08:23

    Amen..another devil down...Mugabe your next..sathane is waiting for you too.

  • Sharmay - 2011-12-19 08:33

    Time to rent Team America: World Police.

  • Dane - 2011-12-19 08:38

    a bad year for dictators and warlords - Ben Ali, Mubarak, Gadaffi, Gbagbo, Mladic, and now Kim Jong Il... hoe will be next?

      Paul - 2011-12-19 09:10

      You think it's coincidence?

      The Real Unskinny - 2011-12-19 09:47

      Juliass should make the list. Sure - he's only a dictator in training but I'm sure no sane person would object.

  • Max - 2011-12-19 08:40

    It is really strange that the ANC didn't already publicly paid respects to this wonderfull comrade, buddy tjom pal of theirs. I mean in terms of screwing your country's population he was really someone the could aspire to.

  • anthony.weineck - 2011-12-19 08:43

    I'm working in South Korea right now. While they're aware of Kim Jeong-Il's death, they don't seem particularly worried - life goes on here. They're so used to the war with the North that, while it's massive news, it really doesn't faze them. Then again, I guess that "Kim Jong's death: South Koreans not fazed" isn't quite as punchy. Nice reporting SAPA. Oh, and congrats on sourcing Internet discussion boards for your reaction quotes - really reliable reporting there.

      Con - 2011-12-19 09:35

      Agreed, the reporting on this issue is really confused. According to the reportin, on the one hand people think that NK might now "open up" but on the other hand everyone is now fearing a military action by NK. Even the markets are in a flurry over this. We are not told why NK would attack SK now that the Supreme Leader has passed.

  • Grant - 2011-12-19 08:49

    American troops have pullled out of Iraq, it seems they may now have to go to Korea. Actually though, I don't see why countries will go to war when an old leader has a heart attack.

  • charliekeegan2 - 2011-12-19 08:50

    Man, 2011 has not been a good year for dictators.

  • Blossom - 2011-12-19 09:00

    1 less dictator to be fed.

  • Marius Koen - 2011-12-19 09:01

    This monday just became less blue.

  • Isabel - 2011-12-19 12:33

    Excellent news! A lot of dictators have bitten the dust this yeaar.

  • pages:
  • 1