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.