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It is the anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-il (1941-2011), known in North Korea as the "dear leader" and "the general". His father, the "eternal president", was Kim Il-Sung who ruled North Korea for 45 years. Kim Jong-il took over the reigns in 1994.
Under Kim Jong-il, North Korea's single-party state (the Juche idea) struggled with the loss of very substantial economic assistance from the former Soviet Union and China, and with trade boycotts from other countries. It led to a permanent shortage of essential goods. From 1990 onward, there have been several regional famines in North Korea which critics regard as having been preventable.
After his death, Kim Jong-il was given the honorific title "supreme commander" and was made an "eternal general secretary" of the Korean Workers' Party.