Kim Jong-il, the enigmatic North Korean leader, died on a train at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in his country. Forty-eight hours later, officials in South Korea still did not know anything about it — to say nothing of Washington, where the State Department acknowledged “press reporting” of Mr. Kim’s death well after North Korean state media had already announced it.
Of course it's true what the New York Times asserts above -- Kim Jong-il's death was indeed an "extensive intelligence failure." But I'd take it even further...
It's not just about the man's death…the elusiveness and mystery of North Korea's context as a whole -- in 2011, smack in between a rapidly rising China and first-world South Korea/Japan -- is the true extent of the intelligence failure. It's not that easy for a country to maintain rogue status yet simultaneously scrape by with unpredictable yet sufficient negotiations with its cautious neighbors.
North Korea, not merely Kim Jong-il's death, is the real intelligence "failure."