Tuesday 22 October 2019

10 things you may not have known about Kim Jong-il

Danielle Demetriou

Dear Leader, Supreme Leader, Our Father, The General, Generalissimo: a man of many names, Kim Jong-il was among the most enigmatic, controlling and contradictory of the world's recent modern leaders.

1: According to his official biographers, his birth in 1941 in Baekdu Mountain was apparently prophesied by a swallow and heralded with a double rainbow and a new star in the heavens.

2: A near-obsessive film buff and a fan of Elizabeth Taylor in particular, he reportedly had a collection of 20,000 plus video tapes, with his all time favourites including Rambo and Godzilla.

3: The dictator travelled by private train for state visits – a decision believed to be connected to his apparent fear of flying, a phobia he was believed to share with his father.

4: His private train journeys were as luxurious as befitted a leader of North Korea, despite the millions left behind starving due to famine: one Russian emissary who travelled across Russia by train with Kim described how live lobsters were airlifted daily to his train.

5: Kim ordered the kidnapping of Shin Sang-ok, the South Korean film director, and his actress wife, Choi Eun-hee, in 1978 in order to build up North Korea's film industry. They made seven films before escaping to the West in 1986.

6: Kim apparently produced a patriotic 100-part documentary series on the history of his North Korean homeland as well as writing a book entitled On the Art of Cinema.

7: Film was not his only passion: Kim also apparently composed six operas and enjoyed staging musicals, again according to his official biography.

8: He was hailed as a demigod style guru in North Korea – although South Korea portrayed him as a vain playboy with a penchant for bouffant hair, jumpsuits and platform shoes designed to make him look taller.

9: He reportedly spread the myth across North Korea that he could control the weather with his moods, as if by magic.

10: There have been reports that he would refuse to consume anything not produced in North Korea – although he made an exception of French wine as reflected in the 10-000 strong collection of bottles in his cellar.


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