North Korea's 'Dear Leader': what you didn't know

By Paul Harper

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Scenes of North Koreans crying following the death of their Dear Leader may appear over the top, but Kim Jong Il was revered as a demigod.

According to North Korean state literature, he was born in a log cabin on Mount Paektu in 1942. His birth, which was foreseen by a swallow, caused the seasons to change from winter to spring and a double rainbow to form in the sky. However Soviet records claim he was born in Siberia in 1941.

According to his official state biography, Kim Jong Il could control the weather and didn't defecate.

Like Mao and Stalin before him, Kim Jong Il enforced his cult of personality with statues and images of him adorning public spaces.

'No Motherland Without You'

In 1992 the song No Motherland Without You was written, which includes the line "We cannot exist without you, Comrade Kim Jong Il.

The motherland cannot exist without you".

Standing at only 1.6m tall, Kim Jong Il wore platform shoes and permed his hair into a bouffant to appear taller.

Kim Jong Il's trademark sunglasses and suits saw the leader hailed as a fashion icon in his home country.

The Dear Leader also loved sports, and claimed to be an incredible athlete himself.

Golf legend - an incredible 11 holes-in-one (in his first round)

In 1994, Kim Jong Il shot a remarkable 38-under par in his first game of golf, including a staggering 11 holes in one. The phenomenal feat was confirmed by 17 bodyguards at the country's national golf club in Pyongyang, however it has yet to be recognised by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews.

Bowling legend - a perfect game (in his first game)

Kim was also great at knocking over the pins, bowling a perfect 300 in his first game.

North Korea's leader also loved the NBA, reportedly owning a video library of every game Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan ever played.

Over 20,000 films - kidnapped film director

For someone who hated Americans, he sure loved Hollywood. He reportedly owned 20,000 films, and in 1978 allegedly kidnapped South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his wife, actress Choi Eun-hee, to demand Shin produce a communist propaganda version of Godzilla for him. In 1985 Pulgasari was produced, and a year later the kidnapped pair managed to escape while on a trip to Vienna.

Kim's own place on the silver screen has been sealed in history - albeit in puppet-form.

Many may have seen Kim Jong Il in Matt Stone and Trey Parker's film Team America: World Police. In the film, the diminutive dictator is mocked as being "so ronery" and misunderstood.

In the 2004 book I was Kim Jong Il's cook, Japanese chef Kenji Fujimoto wrote that he liked fish so fresh it was still "thrashing".

"I sliced the fish so as not to puncture any of its vital organs, so of course it was still moving," Mr Fujimoti told the Washington Post.

Kim also reportedly had people inspect all grains of his rice for uniform length and colour. He was a fan of French wine and cognac, and spent US$700,000 per year on brandy.

He also enjoyed donkey meat.

Kim invented hamburger

In 2004 he claimed to have invented the hamburger, although he called it the "double bread with meat".

A former staffer said Kim Jong Il had all his administrative staff injected each day with a painkiller which had been prescribed to him after falling off a horse (for fear that he would become addicted and did not want to be the only one) and upon being told to quit smoking in 2007 he reportedly had smoking banned in the entire country.

Faced with growing famine in North Korea, Kim Jong Il enlisted the help of German giant rabbit breeder Karl Szmolinsky in 2007. Twelve of the giant rabbits were sent to North Korea to get things started, however Mr Szmolinsky was shocked to learn the massive rabbits were eaten at a birthday banquet for the Dear Leader that year.

In the late 1950s an entire village was reportedly built on Kim's request. The only North Korean village visible from the South Korean demilitarised-zone, Kijong-Dong is known as the Peace Village in the north and the Propaganda Village in the South and elsewhere.

Kijong-Dong was designed to entice South Korean defectors, however to this day remains uninhabited. The village sports a 160m flagpole, erected in the 1980s to rival a 98m South Korean one across the border.

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