Kim Jong Il, North Korea's longtime leader, is dead from a heart attack, state-owned TV stations reported early Monday.
The Asian dictator, who made his country infamous with his autocratic rule and his alarmingly erratic policies about North Korea's nuclear weapons, had been treated for cardiac disease for several years. The communist country's Dear Leader was rumored to have diabetes as well as a chronic heart disease.
In September 2010, Kim Jong Il announced that his third son Kim Jong Un would be his successor, but immediately following reports that he had died, the military was put on high alert, and President Lee Myung-back has convened a national security council now that Kim Jong Il's death has been confirmed.
Both Kim Jong Il and Muammar Gaddafi died in the fall of 2011 at age 69, two infamously tyrannical dictators whose rule had shaped their countries for decades.
In the hours following Jung Il's death North Korea had already begun a very new and very unstable beginning as a country without him. Analysts have told The Wall Street Journal that Kim Jong Un's position is very tenuous, and that the most likely scenario of a North Korea collapse would be if the dictator's suddenly died.
As Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (known to the U.S. and others simply as Korth Korea) puts a temporary hold on talks with South Korea and America, the country's people and leaders struggle to define the shape fo the coming months and years. Just as with Gaddafi's Libya, a North Korea free of Kim Jong Il is full of both possibilities and dangers.
But what about those dictators in the world who are still alive and well, and still rule their countries with an iron fist? Like Kim Jon Il in North Korea, these men are guilty of atrocious civil rights abuses, often suspected of killing thousands of their own people and denying millions more of their basic human rights. Yet they remain in power, largely uncensored by international peacekeeping forces.
The Human Rights Watch no longer has to worry about Kim Jong Il and Muammar Gaddafi, but men like Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe continue to rule. Click through our slideshow to see the eight worst tyrannical dictators alive and in power, ruling countries from Uganda and Sudan to Eritrea and Uzbekistan.