President of North Korea (died on Dec 19, 2011)
Kim Jong-il, President of North Korea (died on Dec 19, 2011)
Kim Jong-il, at 64, is the unchallenged leader of North Korea. Since he succeeded his father Kim Il-sung in 1994 the secretive communist state has sunk further into poverty, while its foreign policy has become ever more combative and anti-Western.
The birth of Kim Il-sung’s eldest son – now known to his people as “Dear Leader” – is steeped in legend. According to some accounts he was born in February 1942 on Mount Paektu, his birth marked by the appearance of a double rainbow and a bright star in the sky.
Others claim he was born February 1941 in Siberia during Kim Il-sung’s period of exile.
Kim studied politics at the Kim Il-sung university and graduated in 1964, becoming leader of the Korean Workers’ Party and joining the party politburo.
He was later appointed deputy editor of the Propaganda and Agitation department and, in 1973, he became party secretary in charge of Organisation and Propaganda.
By 1980 he had become a member of the Central Committee and the designated successor to his father. In 1991 he was appointed Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
Little is known about him although there are many stories. He is said to have written six operas within two years and single-handedly designed the Juche tower which signifies the Juche ideology of self reliance blended with Marxism, the Korean idea of communism.
It is also rumoured that he has been responsible for kidnapping young women, mainly from Japan, in order to be his companions.
Kim Jong-il has been suspected of being involved in the 1983 bomb attack on Rangoon in which several members of the South Korean cabinet were killed and the bombing of a South Korean airliner four years later.
Recent reports suggest that the dictator has hired body doubles to carry out boring state visits and reduce the threat from assassins.
A liking for exotic foods including roast donkey has contibuted to the dictator’s potbellied physique, although the look is far from typical in his country where many survive on a meagre diet of rice and cabbage.