The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il from a heart attack over the weekend has prompted an avalanche of reaction from around the globe. Here are some of the comments from prominent sources:
“We are closely monitoring reports that Kim Jong-il is dead. The President has been notified, and we are in close touch with our allies in South Korea and Japan. We remain committed to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies.”
--Jay Carney, U.S. White House spokesman
We hope this sudden event does not have an adverse effect on the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.
--Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura
“The people of North Korea are in official mourning after the death of Kim Jong-il. We understand this is a difficult time for them. This could be a turning point for North Korea. We hope that their new leadership will recognize that engagement with the international community offers the best prospect of improving the lives of ordinary North Korean people. We encourage North Korea to work for peace and security in the region and take the steps necessary to allow the resumption of the Six Party Talks on de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
--William Hague, U.K. Foreign Secretary
“President Lee urged the public to go about their usual economic activities without turbulence. The two leaders (Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama) agreed to closely co-operate and monitor the situation together.”
--Spokesman for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
“We were distressed to learn of the unfortunate passing of the senior-most North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and we express our grief about this and extend our condolences to the people of North Korea. Comrade Kim Jong-il was the great leader of the North Korean people and a close friend of the Chinese people. He made important contributions to the development of socialism in North Korea, and the development of friendly, neighborly and co-operative relations between China and North Korea. We hope the two countries could carry on working together for peace in the Korean peninsula.”
--Liu Weimin, spokesman for Chinese foreign ministry
“I have ordered officials to beef up intelligence-gathering on North Korea, to work closely with the United States, China and South Korea, and to prepare for further unexpected developments. We will gather information to assess how this incident will affect the situation. I have instructed (agencies) to prepare even for the unexpected to ensure this will not adversely influence peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.”
-- Yoshihiko Noda, Japanese Prime Minister
“This is of course a chance for things to change there but our expectations remain the same: that North Korea gives up its nuclear program, that the catastrophic social situation of its own people improves and that it declares itself ready to open up in the political and economic spheres. Whoever takes over power must assume responsibility for improving the desperate situation of the people there. There is a clearly untenable situation with two Korean states.”
--Statement from German Foreign Ministry
“We are very watchful of the consequences of this succession, hoping that one day the people of North Korea will be able to find freedom. The death of a man is never something to be cheered, but it is the sad suffering of a people that is important. North Korea is a completely closed regime, one of the very last (Communist) regimes on the planet. There is a process of dialogue with North Korea that has highs and lows. This dialogue must continue, with China and the other participants, so that North Korea renounces its nuclear weapons.”
--Alain Juppe, France’s Foreign Minister
“Two critical points need to be emphasized at this important time. The first is that all governments, including the government of North Korea, should at this time be exercising maximum calm and restraint both in terms of what they do and in their diplomatic signaling. It is at times like this that we cannot afford to have any wrong or ambiguous signaling. This time also presents an important opportunity to the new North Korean leadership to engage fully with the international community on how to improve their economy in order to properly feed their people and critically on how to deal with the outstanding problem of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The political succession in North Korea is uncertain. It will be difficult to read in the immediate days ahead precisely what will transpire in terms of the future of the North Korean leadership.”
--Kevin Rudd, Australian Foreign Minister
The death of a dictator is always a period of uncertainty for a dictatorship. And North Korea is the hardest dictatorship in our time.
--Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt
“Kim Jong-il will be remembered as the brutal overseer of massive and systematic oppression that included a willingness to let his people starve. When he assumes leadership, Kim Jong-un should break with the past and put the human rights of North Koreans first, not last.... North Korea under Kim Jong-il has been a human rights hell on earth. Kim Jong-il ruled through fear generated by systematic and pervasive human rights abuses including arbitrary executions, torture, forced labor and strict limits on freedom of speech and association.”
-- Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch
[Kim Jong-il’s death] comes at a particularly bad time. In North Korea, it will overshadow preparations for the spring celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Kim il-Sung. In South Korea there are elections and for the United States, President Obama is also in an election year with a difficult economy and quite pressing international concerns elsewhere.
--John Swenson-Wright, Asia Program at London-based think tank Chatham House
Up until [now], if anybody had asked you what would be the most likely scenario under which the North Korean regime could collapse, the answer would be the sudden death of Kim Jong-il. And so I think right now we're in that scenario and we don't know how it's going to turn out.
--Victor Cha, Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington