Kim Jong-Il: Skilled and ruthless ruler | world | Hindustan Times
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Kim Jong-Il: Skilled and ruthless ruler

world Updated: Dec 20, 2011 00:30 IST

Belying his caricature image as an eccentric playboy, Kim Jong-Il was a politically skilled and ruthless ruler who kept North Korea's brutal regime in place despite famine and economic decline. Kim, who died on Saturday of a heart attack aged 69, perpetuated his power using propaganda, prison camps, an all-pervading personality cult inherited from his father and a massive army.

In the mid- to late-1990s Kim presided over a famine that by some estimates killed one million -- but he still found resources to continue a nuclear weapons programme culminating in tests in October 2006 and May 2009. The UN children's fund estimates one-third of children are stunted by malnutrition. The regime faces increasing pressure from sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes and the parlous state of the economy.