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Kim Jong Il death: Defector recalls escaping North Korea

December 18, 2011 |  9:42 pm

One North Korean defector now living in Los Angeles said the death of Kim Jong Il reminded him of the North Korea region's treachery.

“I saw it as someone who should have passed long ago finally having passed,” said the defector, who asked not to be named because of the nature of his escape from North Korea. “It was something that should have happened long ago.”

The 42-year-old man, who fled by boat with his wife and two children five years ago, said he learned of the leader’s death through the news on Korean-language television at his home.

PHOTOS: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

He said it reminded him of his treacherous journey fleeing from the nation, when he met a typhoon on his boat ride and eventually made his way to the U.S.

Kim’s death was announced by state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. No cause of death was reported, but Kim was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

FULL COVERAGE: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

The  leader was believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but nonetheless appeared in numerous photos released by state media as he toured state facilities and in recent months embarked on rare trips outside North Korea -- to China and Russia.

Kim, who came to power in 1994 upon the death of his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, led one of the world’s most enduring dictatorships, a repressive regime that has long defied predictions of its demise.

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-- Victoria Kim

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