Even people who aren’t very familiar with North Korean issues know that Kim Jong Il wasn’t your average man. There are plenty of news articles, testaments, and photos to verify this. He had a lot of different hobbies and interests. And North Korean propaganda only adds to his “bigger than life” reputation. I’ve put together a few of those facts and rumors into this article to take a look at. So let’s begin.
- Legend has it that his birth was prophesied by a swallow and 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. Russian records, however, indicate he was born in the Siberian village of Vyatskoye, in 1941. The people of North Korea, many of whom are reportedly battling famine, are apparently told that Kim’s birthday is celebrated throughout the world.
- Official records reportedly show that Kim learned to walk at the age of three weeks, and was talking at eight weeks.
- It’s claimed in his biography that he wrote no fewer than 1,500 books within three years.
- He was a near-obsessive film buff with a reported collection of 20,000 plus video tapes. He was said to be a particular fan of Elizabeth Taylor, the late Hollywood actress. In 1978, Kim ordered the kidnapping of Shin Sang-ok, the South Korean film director, and his actress wife, Choi Eun-hee in order to build up North Korea’s film industry. They made seven films before escaping to the West in 1986.
- He apparently composed six operas and enjoyed staging musicals. According to his official biography, all of his operas are “better than any in the history of music.”
- He reportedly spread the myth across North Korea that he could control the weather with his moods, as if by magic.
- Kim had female staff inspect each grain of rice to check it adhered to standards of length, weight and color. KJI only had the best.
- A personality evaluation report on him, compiled by psychiatrists suggested that the “big six” group of personality disorders – sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid and schizotypal – which were shared by dictators Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein were also dominant in the late North Korean leader.
- Minju Joson, a North Korean newspaper, reported once that KJI invented a product described as “double bread with meat” and created factories to produce them in order to feed his students and teachers. Some observers noted it was very similar to an American-hamburger.
- German media reported in 2007 that KJI 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 Jong Il’s birthday banquet that year.
- 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.
- 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.
It’s no doubt that the man lived a life very different than perhaps any other dictator we’ve seen before, with his “legends” and propagandas. I mean, he tried to get people to believe that he didn’t need to use the bathroom. Ever. It doesn’t get much weirder than that. But all jokes aside, it makes me wonder how much of this the North Korean people actually believed. Well, obviously not about the defecation thing but what about the other stuff? And does this affect them psychologically? The psychology of the North Korean people definitely brings forth a lot of questions to think about for the future of unification.