Two prominent deaths in the news this morning.
First from Hague:
A black flag flew over Prague Castle, the presidential seat, while Czechs lit candles to remember the the dissident playwright who helped kick off the fall of the Iron Curtain and then served as president of Czechoslovakia, and later the Czech Republic.
"Mr. President, thank you for democracy," read a note placed at the monument to the revolution in downtown Prague.
Havel, the dissident playwright who wove theater into politics to peacefully bring down communism in Czechoslovakia and become a hero of the epic struggle that ended the Cold War, died Sunday morning at his weekend house. He was 75.
And from Pyongyang:
Kim Jong Il, North Korea's longtime dictator who allowed his people to starve while building a vast military, has died of heart failure. His death sparked immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program.
In a "special broadcast" Monday from the North Korean capital, state media said the 69-year-old died of a heart ailment on a train due to a "great mental and physical strain" on Saturday during a "high intensity field inspection." It said an autopsy was completed on Sunday and "fully confirmed" the diagnosis.
A spokesperson at the Unification Ministry confirmed Kim's death to NBC News. His funeral will be held on December 28.
Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008, but he had appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media.
The communist country's "Dear Leader" — reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine — was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.
"It is the biggest loss for the party ... and it is our people and nation's biggest sadness," an anchorwoman clad in black Korean traditional dress said in a voice choked with tears. She said the nation must "change our sadness to strength and overcome our difficulties."
Let's hope that the vacuum left by the man's death is filled with truth and love, that lies and hatred are overcome and that North Korea will begin a trek that brings freedom to her oppressed people.