Kim Jong Il: 18 Strange 'Facts' About The North Korean Leader
Deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was a complex, often brutal dictator who prioritised military might and his own comfort ahead of feeding his own people.
He was also a man who seemed to radiate weirdness.
Perhaps it was his style of dress, or his keen ability to look at things without smiling. Perhaps it was his claim to have invented the hamburger. Whatever the cause, there is no shortage of funny, bizarre and odd facts about Kim Jong Il floating around on the internet.
Here are some of our favourites:
He Was Born Under A Double Rainbow
According to Kim Jong Il's official biography, he was born in a secret military camp on Baekdu Mountain during North Korea's Japanese occupation and his arrival was prophesised by a double rainbow and marked by the sight of a new star and a swallow in the sky. Unfortunately the truth appears to be more mundane - according to Soviet records, Kim was born in the Siberian village of Vyatskoye in 1941.
He Loved Waterslides
Recently-taken satellite imagery of some of Kim Jong-Il's personal mansions (the Communist leader had at least 17) show that the leader made great efforts to build and maintain a series of ludicrously loopy waterslides.
He Was Afraid Of Flying
Kim Jong Il was reportedly terrified of flying and always travelled in armoured private trains - one of which he eventually died inside. His father, Kim Il-sung, was also afraid of flying.
He Kidnapped Short People
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 genepool.
He Was The World's Greatest Sportsman
According to national media, in 1994 Kim Jong Il shot a record-breaking round of golf in which he achieved 11 holes-in-one, and a total score of 38 - by far the greatest score in history. And it was his first try, having never before played the game. No other media organisation reported the news, however…
He Could Control The Weather
According to reports the former leader spread rumours that he could make it rain on demand, depending on his mood.
He Kidnapped Two Directors To Remake Godzilla
Kim Jong Il loved movies - he had a collection of more than 20,000 - and his 1973 book 'On The Art Of Cinema' became a manual for North Korean directors. Disappointed with their work, however, he took matters into his own hands. No, he didn't direct a film himself, as far as we know. Instead he kidnapped two respected South Korean directors in 1978 (Shin Sang Ok and Choi Eun Hee) and forced them to remake Godzilla. Their movie, Pulgasari, only emerged after the couple were forced to remarry in 1983 having spent years inside labour camps. They eventually escaped on a trip to Vienna, where they fled to the US embassy in 1986.
See below for a clip from the film.
He Was Suspected Of Killing His Brother At Age Five
Kim's younger brother Kim Shu-ra drowned in the family's swimming pool in a mansion in Pyongyang when he was five. Soviet reports claimed that the young future leader might have been responsible for the incident.
He Drank $700k Worth Of Cognac A Year
According to a study a few years ago by Dr. Jerold Post, a former CIA psychologist, Kim Jong Il loved Hennessey cognac - which sells for around $630 a bottle in North Korea, or just under the average annual income ($900). According to the study he averaged around $650,000 to $720,000 of cognac a year.
He Did Not Use Toilets - Because He Didn't Need To
According to an official biography posted on the North Korean state web site, that has since been removed, Kim Jong-il did not defecate.
His Son - And New North Korean leader - Kim Jong Un Is Obsessed With The NBA.
Swiss-educated Kim Jong-un was apparently obsessed with professional basketball and worshipped Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers. Friends who knew him said that he was a "fiercely competitive player" even though he was also shy and awkward with girls. He was not aggressively anti-American and had photographs of himself with NBA players. No one is sure of when they were taken.
Above: Kim Jong Il (right) and his son Kim Jong Un (left).
He Considered Himself To Be An Internet Expert
North Korean citizens were not able to freely use mobile phones or the Internet, but Kim considered himself to be a communications expert. "I'm an Internet expert too," he told South Korea's president in 2007. "It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired."
He Forced Staff To Become Drug Addicts
One of Kim's former staff members wrote a book in which he said that the Dear Leader forced his men to take the same painkillers as him so that he would not be the only one who became addicted after falling off a horse. Thoughtful.
He Ate Donkeys
One of Kim's former chefs reported in 2004 that the leader developed a taste for nice French wine, lobster and donkey meat.
He Had Many, Many Titles
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, Invicible And Ever-Triumphant General and Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradely Love.
Above: Pyongyang, North Korea's capital city, and the 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel.
He Was A Rice Obsessive
According to a nephew of Kim's first wife, Lee Young Nam, the leader had female staff inspect each grain of rice he ate to make sure it adhered to standards of length, weight and colour.
He Invented Hamburgers
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.
He Forced Women To Have Cosmetic Surgery
According to one report, Kim forced waitresses at restaurants frequented by foreigners in Pyongyang to have cosmetic surgery in order to appear more "western".