Area residents had mixed reactions Monday to the news that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il had died of a heart attack at age 69.
Ronald Mickelinc of Martinsburg, W.Va., said Kim’s death works out much better for the people of North Korea.
“(Kim) was a mass murderer and he was crazy,” Mickelinc said. “Maybe they won’t be selling nuclear weapons to other countries, and maybe they’ll start feeding their people.”
Ty Jaouni of Hagerstown said that although things might change, North Korea could remain a problem.
“The transition will be a little uncertain and scary,” Jaouni said. “They have a large military and have shown they’re not afraid to use it.”
Kim’s son, Kim Jong Un, was named his successor. The future of North Korea and its relationship with the world under Kim Jong Un’s leadership also caused mixed reactions among area residents Monday.
Hagerstown resident Elizabeth Wolfe said that although she is glad Kim is gone, she was uncertain about what kind of a ruler his son might be.
“He’s really young and unknown, so he needs to prove himself,” Wolfe said. “But he might be more open to change since he’s young.”
Bob Erickson of Hagerstown said Kim’s death has the potential to be a good thing, but he was not sure because the dead dictator’s son is an unknown quantity.
“I’m more concerned about the people of North Korea; it’s hard to say how his son will do,” Erickson said. “I’m an optimist, though, so I’m hoping he’ll do a better job than his father.”
Hagerstown resident Bob Kranzler said he does not think Kim’s death will improve North Korea’s relationship with the United States.
“I don’t think it improves the situation at all. If anything, I think it could possibly get worse,” Kranzler said. “I think we have to wait and see how things play out over the next month, then we can see how we’re going to react to any changes.”
Chuck Sweigert of Clarksburg, Md., said that despite the uncertainty surrounding Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il’s death was in some respects a good thing.
“You hate when people die, but we were really worried about what (Kim Jong Il) was going to do,” Sweigert said. “He could create havoc with the entire world.”
Sweigert added, however, that he was unsure of what Kim Jong Un will do as his father’s successor.
“I hope his son does not take too many bad thoughts from his dad,” Sweigert said. “But, then again, sometimes sons follow in their father’s footsteps, as we’ve seen with gangsters.”
Kim Jong Il died Saturday, according to Associated Press reports. He took over as North Korea’s leader in 1994, after his father and founding president, Kim Il Sung, died.
During his time as leader, Kim Jong Il’s country experienced a famine that killed hundreds of thousands of people in the late 1990s and continued a nuclear weapons program that included tests in 2006 and 2009.