North Korea’s pint-sized dictator is a master of propaganda and social manipulation, but he also apparently suffers from insecurity, delusion, and severe OCD. Here are 15 “facts” about Kim Jong Il, as reported by the media. The word “facts” is in quotes because the first 5 on the list are examples of propaganda that Kim Jong Il uses to brainwash his citizens into maintaining his almost god-like image.
1| Divine Birth
Legend has it that a double rainbow and a glowing new star appeared in the heavens to herald the birth of Kim Jong Il, in 1942, on North Korea’s cherished Baekdu Mountain. Soviet records, however, indicate he was born in a small Siberian village in 1941. The people of North Korea are told that Kim’s birthday is celebrated throughout the world.
2| Fear Of Flying
Perhaps one of the reasons the North Korean leader was so reclusive was his fear of flying, which he inherited from his father, Kim Il Sung. Kim rarely traveled abroad, and when he did it was by train – once taking a luxury rail car all the way to Moscow.
3| Wanted To Breed Giant Rabbits
German media reported in 2007 that Kim hoped to solve the famine in his country by breeding giant rabbits. An east German farmer who bred rabbits the size of dogs was apparently asked by North Korea to help set up a big bunny farm to alleviate food shortages. To get things going, he sent a batch of 12 giant rabbits to North Korea, but was shocked to hear they were eaten at Kim’s birthday banquet that year.
4| Liked To Eat Roast Donkey
While Kim was on his famous 2001 train trip to Moscow, a Russian envoy that traveled with him said roast donkey and fresh lobsters were flown to the train every day. Kim also reportedly ate the food with silver chopsticks, and washed it down with French wine and Champagne.
5| Great Booze
For a few years in the early 1990s, it was confirmed by Hennessy that Kim Jong Il was it’s best customer, spending about $600,000 to $850,000 annually on the liquor. He is partial to the Paradis cognac, which can sell for over $700 per bottle. In comparison, the average North Korean makes about $1000 per year.
6| High Achiever
Official records reportedly show that Kim learned to walk at the age of three weeks, and was talking at eight weeks. While at Kim Il Sung University, he apparently wrote 1,500 books over a period of three years, along with six full operas. According to his official biography, all of his operas are “better than any in the history of music.”
7| Golfing Glory
Then there’s his sporting prowess. In 1994, Pyongyang media reported that the first time Kim picked up a golf club, he shot a 38-under par round on North Korea’s only golf course, including 11 holes-in-one. Reports say each of his 17 bodyguards verified the record-breaking feat. He then decided to retire from the sport forever.
According to a book written by one of Kim Jong Il’s ex-staff members, he was once injured by falling off his horse when it slipped on loose rocks. He was afraid of becoming addicted to the painkillers that his doctors prescribed him, so he had members of his administrative staff injected daily with the same dosages he had to take. He did this so he wouldn’t be the only one hooked on the drug.
9| Built A City For Propaganda
In the 1950s Kim built an entire city called Kijong-Dong, also known in North Korea as the Peace Village, which was designed only for propaganda. It is situated in the North’s half of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and to this day it has no residents.
10| Fashion Icon
Standing at at 5-foot-3, Kim was a curious figure with his bouffant hairdo, platform shoes and collection of jumpsuits. And let’s not forget those sunglasses. But nevertheless, Rodong Sinmun, a communist party newspaper, reported that Kim Jong Il’s suits had become a global fashion phenomenon. His “fashion icon” status has also reportedly been transferred to son and successor, Kim Jong Un. Word is that the slick, trimmed haircut of Kim the younger, who may have had plastic surgery to look more like his father, is being mimicked by countless youths on the streets of Pyongyang.
11| Film Buff
Kim was said to be an avid film collector, amassing more than 20,000 video tapes and DVDs. His favorite flicks reportedly included Friday the 13th, Rambo, Godzilla, Hong Kong action films, and anything starring Elizabeth Taylor. In 1978, he ordered the kidnapping of South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-hee so they could build a North Korean film industry. A decade later, they reportedly escaped while on a trip to Austria, and have since been granted refuge in the United States.
12| Child Killer?
When Kim was aged five or six, his younger brother Shura Kim drowned in the family’s swimming pool. Unconfirmed Soviet reports said that Kim was responsible for the accident. His mother died in childbirth the following year.
13| Didn’t Defecate
It is reported that Kim’s official biography on the North Korean state web site, which has since been taken down, claimed that Kim did not defecate. Enough said.
North Korean newspaper Minju Joson once reported that Kim Jong Il had invented something called the “double bread with meat” and created factories to produce them in order to feed his students and teachers. Given North Korea’s anti-American stance it wasn’t politic to admit they were in fact hamburgers.
15| Short Citizens Are Not Welcome
According to one of Kim Jong Il’s former tutors, the leader used pamphlets advertising wonder-growth drugs to lure small people into traps, from where they would be deported to “uninhabited islands” to remove their “substandard” stock from the gene pool.
16| Rain Maker
According to reports, the leader spread rumors that Kim Jong Il could make it rain on demand, depending on his mood.
17| Kim the Divine
Among Kim Jong Il’s official titles were: Shining Star of Paektu Mountain, Guiding Sun Ray, Dear Leader, Great Leader, Respected Leader, Brilliant Leader, Sun of Socialism, The Great Sun of Life, Great Man Who Descended From Heaven, Invincible And Ever-Triumphant General and Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradely Love.