FILE - This photo released by (North) Korean Central News Agency via Tokyo-based Korea News Service on Friday, Jan. 23, 2009, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, on Friday, Jan. 23, 2009. Kim's youngest son, Kim Jong Un, has reportedly been named to the powerful National Defense Commission, an appointment that analysts said Sunday, April 26, 2009 indicates the 26-year-old is being groomed to take power. (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service, File)
December 19, 2011 6:49:34 AM PST
By JEAN H. LEE and RAFAEL WOBER
SEOUL, South Korea - December 18, 2011 --
Even as the world changed around him, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il remained firmly in control, ruling absolutely at home and keeping the rest of the world on edge through a nuclear weapons program.