Key dates in the history of North Korea and its late leader Kim Jong Il:
April 15, 1912: North Korean founder Kim Il Sung is born in Pyongyang.
Feb. 16, 1942: Kim Jong Il is born in a guerrilla fighters' camp on Mount Paektu, the highest peak on the Korean peninsula, according to official North Korean history. Some sources say he was born in a Siberian village, and that the year of his birth was 1941.
Sept 9, 1948: Kim Il Sung establishes the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the northern half of the Korean peninsula.
June 25, 1950: North Korea invades South Korea.
July 27, 1953: The Korean War ends in a truce, not a peace treaty.
September 1973: Kim Jong Il assumes the Workers Party's No 2 post,the secretary for the party's organization, guidance and propaganda affairs.
February 1974: Kim Jong Il is elected to the Political Bureau of the Workers Party's Central Committee and formally becomes North Korea's future leader.
Oct 10, 1980: Kim Jong Il's status as the country's future leader is made public at the Workers' Party congress, where he takes up other top positions.
Jan. 8, 1983: Kim Jong Il's third and youngest son Jong Un is believed to have been born.
Dec. 24, 1991: Kim Jong Il is named Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army.
April 1993: Kim Jong Il is named Chairman of the National Defense Commission.
July 8, 1994: Kim Il Sung dies of a heart attack and Kim Jong Il inherits power.
Oct 8, 1997: Kim Jong Il is named General Secretary of the Workers' Party.
August 2008: Kim Jong Il reportedly suffers a stroke.
July 21, 2010: The US imposes new sanctions on North Korea in a bid to stem Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
Sept 28, 2010: Kim Jong Un is promoted to four-star general and given leadership roles in the ruling Workers' Party, moves seen as confirmation that he is slated to become the country's next leader. The announcement is North Korean state media's first mention of Kim Jong Un.
Oct 10, 2010: Kim Jong Un makes his public debut at what is believed to be the largest military parade the communist state has ever staged. The celebration in Pyongyang marks the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party but also serves as a coming-out party for the younger Kim.
Oct 11, 2010: Kim Jong Nam, the casino-loving eldest son of Kim Jong Il, says he opposes a hereditary transfer of power to his youngest half-brother. Analysts say Kim Jong Nam spends so much time outside his native land that his opinion carries little weight. He spoke to Japan's TV Asahi in an interview from Beijing.
Jan 28, 2011: Kim Jong Nam says his father opposed continuing the family dynasty into a third generation but named his youngest son as heir to keep the country stable, according to TV Asahi.
Feb 16, 2011: Kim Jong Il celebrates his 69th birthday.
April 15, 2011: North Koreans honor the country's founder, Kim Il Sung, on the 99th anniversary of his birth. It is the nation's most important holiday and known as "The Day of the Sun."
Dec 18, 2011: Kim Jong Il's death at the age of 69 is announced by state television from Pyongyang.