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Kim Jong Il

Kim Jong IlAKA Yuri Irsenowich Kim

Born: 16-Feb-1941
Birthplace: Khabarovsk, Siberia, Russia
Died: 17-Dec-2011
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Asian
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Head of State

Nationality: North Korea
Executive summary: Dictator of North Korea, 1994-2011

As a young man, "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il lived a playboy lifestyle, and many Koreans assumed that he would never be disciplined enough to succeed his father, Kim Il Sung, and lead his nation. But Kim studied political science at the university named for his father and rose rapidly through Communist Party ranks. He was designated his father's official successor in 1974, and took power upon the elder Kim's death in 1994.

His early reign was marred by a three-year famine which killed perhaps two million citizens, exacerbated by his own government's policies. He had about 80 high-ranking officials, including several relatives and his own brother-in-law, rounded up and purged in 2004. Long under international pressure to end its nuclear program, North Korea astonished the world by testing a nuclear bomb in 2006. Its point made, six-party talks resumed, leading to a modicum of detente by 2007.

Kim Jong-Il was often said to be stark raving bonkers, but this was a misconception. He was eccentric, certainly, and his government was extremely secretive and brutal to dissidents, but experts say Kim was bright, clear-headed, politically astute, and as sane as any leader with unchecked power. He drove trendy Mazdas, preferred Hennessey cognac, and wore elevator shoes to hide his short stature (without the shoes, he stood about 5'2").

His nation, of course, is staggeringly poor. Under Kim, internet access was forbidden and irrelevant, since computers and telephones, or even such modern amenities as refrigerators, stoves, and telephones were not available to ordinary citizens. Satellite imagery showed North Korea as utterly dark at night, as the nation's electrical grid remains nonexistent outside military command centers. Access to paper not newspapers, but ordinary writing paper was severely restricted. Television was available only to well-connected insiders or in public community centers, and there was no need to change the channel, as North Korea's one broadcast network was all that was allowed, and of course, it was all propaganda.

According to North Korea's rigidly controlled media, however, the nation never experienced famine or poverty, and adoration for Kim Jong Il was virtually unanimous. In news accounts, the only mention of dissent was when disloyal citizens were arrested and never heard from again. In one well-known example of "news coverage" that would seem almost laughable to people accustomed to freedom, after a deadly explosion on a munitions train as it moved through a densely populated area, the official Korean Central News Agency reported that people dashed into their homes to rescue their portraits of the "Dear Leader", even before looking for their own family members.

Kim Jong Il was a big movie buff, and owned videos of at least 20,000 films. A moviemaker himself, he was the credited producer of Pulgasari, a 1985 Godzilla-esque story based on a 14th-century Korean legend about a monster who helps peasants overthrow their dictatorial king. Kim abducted South Korean director Shin Sang-Ok and actress Choe Un-Hee, and forced them to make the movie. They escaped several years later, when Kim allowed them to attend a film festival in Vienna.

In June 2009 Kim named his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, as his Great Successor. Virtually nothing is publicly known about him, except that he was reportedly educated in Switzerland. In September 2010, Kim Jong-un was appointed General Secretary of the ruling Workers' Party, and given the rank of four-star general in the North Korean Army, though he had no prior experience in the military.

On 18 December 2011, Dear Leader was reported to have died on a train from heart failure, the previous day (or perhaps one day before that). Unusual for the death of a head of state, foreign dignitaries will not be invited to the funeral of a man personally responsible for hundreds of thousands if not millions of deaths.

Father: Kim Il Sung (dictator, d. 8-Jul-1994)
Mother: Kim Chong-suk (d. 1949 childbirth)
Brother: Shura Kim (d. 1947 drowning)
Brother: Kim Pyong-il
Wife: Kim Yong Suk (div.)
Son: Kim Jong-Nam (b. 1971, by Sung Hae-Rim)
Daughter: Kim Sul-song (b. 1974)
Son: Kim Jong-Chol (b. circa 1981, by Ko Young-hee)
Son: Kim Jong Un ("Great Successor", b. 1984)
Mistress: Sung Hae-Rim
Mistress: Ko Young-hee

    High School: Namsan Senior High School, Pyongyang, North Korea (1960)
    University: BA Political Science, Kim Il-Sung University (1964)

    President of North Korea (8-Jul-1994 to 18-Dec-2011)
    Traveled to the USSR 1967
    Traveled to the USSR May-1984
    Stroke 2008
    Birthday Is Holiday
    Korean Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Diabetes, Epilepsy, Pancreatic Cancer

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