(CNN) -- Here is a look at the life of Kim Jong Il, former Leader of Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Details of his life are mysterious and vary from source to source.
Personal: Birth date: February 16, 1942 (some sources say 1941)
Death date: December 17, 2011
Birthplace: Sources vary between Khabarovsk, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics/ Siberia and Mount Paektu, Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Father: Kim Il Sung, former president of Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Mother: Kim Jung Suk
Marriages: Kim Ok (July 2006-December 17, 2011, his death): Ko Young Hee (died August 2004); Kim Yong Suk, 1973 (died 2004)
Children: with Ko Young Hee: Kim Jong-chul (son), Kim Sul-song (daughter) and Kim Jong Un (son); with Kim Yong Suk: Kim Sul-son, 1974; with Song Hye-rim: Kim Jong-nam (son);
Education: Kim Il Sung University, Pyongyang, degree in political economy, 1960s
Other Facts: Sometimes called the "Dear Leader."
Scholars and historians believe he was born in Russia, but that his birthplace has been altered in many sources to Mount Paektu because legend has it that this is where Korea was founded.
Timeline: 1973 - Is elected to the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party and is appointed party secretary.
1980s-1990s - Holds important positions on the Central Committee, in the Politburo and in the Party Secretariat.
1991 - Is named commander in chief of North Korea's military.
July 8, 1994-December 17, 2011 - Becomes the leader of North Korea when his father dies.
October 8, 1997 - Is named leader of the Worker's Party of Korea.
September 1998 - Is re-elected as chairman of the National Defense Commission, the nation's highest position. (The term "president" is reserved for his late father.)
May 2000 - Makes a secret visit to China.
June 2000 - Meets with South Korean leader Kim Dae Jung, the first meeting between the leaders of the two countries.
October 2000 - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visits North Korea, the first U.S. Secretary of State to do so.
June 17, 2005 - Personally meets with Chung Dong Young, South Korean Unification Minister, to discuss the possibility of renewed six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear arsenal.
October 2, 2007 - Roh Moo Hyun, President of South Korea, meets with Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang.
December 5, 2007 - Receives a personal letter from U.S. President George W. Bush requesting compliance with North Korea's pledge to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs. The letter, written and hand-signed by Bush, is delivered by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, and it provides additional encouragement for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program, a pledge North Korea made after the six-party talks held in Geneva earlier in the year.
September 9, 2008 - According to U.S. and South Korean intelligence, Kim Jong Il has been suffering from severe health problems and may have had a stroke.
January 2009 - Reports from South Korea say Kim Jong Il plans on naming as successor Kim Jong Un, 25, his third and youngest son.
April 9, 2009 - Is re-elected for third term as chairman of the National Defense Commission, the nation's highest position.
September 29, 2010 - Is re-elected as general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea. He promotes both his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, and his sister, Kim Kyong Hui, to the rank of general. Kim Jong Un is also named as vice chairman of the party's central military commission.
August 20, 2011 - Kim Jong Il travels to eastern Russia. He meets with President Dmitry Medvedev in Buryatia.
December 17, 2011 - Dies at the age of 69, reportedly of a heart attack.
December 28, 2011 - A three-hour state funeral takes place in Pyongyang for Kim, with a memorial service scheduled for the next day.