South Korea cautiously optimistic after Kim Jong Il’s death (Audio)

Scroll to the bottom to hear the audio report.

News of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s death hit neighboring South Korea in the early afternoon on Monday, immediately putting the country on high alert.


A South Korean man in Seoul reads an extra edition of a local newspaper reporting the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

The two countries have enjoyed relative peace in the last few years, but with the transition of power from the “Dear Leader” to his son Kim Jong Eun, the “Great Successor,” South Koreans worry that military tensions could rise again.

Earlier Monday, South Korean newspaper Yonhap reported that North Korea conducted at least one short-range missile test off the east coast. Washington Post’s special correspondent in Seoul, Yoonjung Seo, says that although the panic level among South Koreans is not the same compared that following the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994, the government has ordered all employees on emergency alert and is taking “all necessary measures are being taken based on the crisis management manual.”

Listen to Yoonjung Seo report from Seoul:

Across the border, North Koreans are in deep mourning following the death of their leader. And, if you can read Korean, one of South Korea’s daily newspapers has an extensive interactive of Kim Jong Il’s life.

Read more about North Korea:

- The life and times of Kim Jong Il

- Kim leaves behind an antiquated country

- North Koreans mourn Kim’s death

- More headlines from around the world

Anup Kaphle is the Post's digital foreign editor. He has an M.S. degree in journalism from Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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