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Kim Jong Il death: Koreans in U.S. fear for relatives in North Korea

December 18, 2011 |  9:23 pm

Kim Jong Il. Click for more photos.

Yoon-hui Kim, a defector who fled North Korea about 10 years ago by crossing the border into China, said refugees in the Los Angeles area were all on edge waiting to see what would happen next in their homeland after the death of "supreme leader" Kim Jong Il.

Many still have family back in North Korea and are deeply concerned about what fate their relatives may face in the immediate future, she said. 

PHOTOS: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

“It was no surprise, since we all knew he was ill,” said Kim, who is in her late 30s, but was careful with personal details about herself. “The most worrying is what will happen to the North Korean people.”

Kim said she felt the situation was particularly volatile and unpredictable because neither South Korea nor China would be in a position to influence the country.

FULL COVERAGE: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

"All we can do is wait and see," she said.

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.

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


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--Victoria Kim

Photo credit: Associated Press