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Kim Jong-il

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Kim Jong Il (Korean: 김정일) (or Kim Jong-il, to prevent confusion when using sans serif fonts,[1] or Yuri Irsenovich Kim on his Soviet birth certificate) (1941–2011) was the megalomaniac totalitarian dictator of North Korea. George Orwell had a premonition about Kim and wrote a novel about a regime eerily similar to his. From the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 until the founding of the Islamic State in 2006, he had no competition for "most repressive regime".

Kim Jong Il was the second member of a dynasty that began with his old man, Kim Il Sung, whose personality cult was transferred to the son after his death. The elder Kim was (at the very most) an honest-to-something anti-colonialist, having fought the Japanese during World War II. The younger one did diddly squat — unless you believe the North Korean press, in which case he wrote ballets, cured cancer, could fly, control the weather, and singlehandedly built an atomic weapon. Nighttime photographs from space show a peculiar lack of manmade light from the northern half of the Korean peninsula(aside from a single dot, which is the capital, Pyongyang) — an amateur astronomer's paradise, perhaps, but it mostly means they have no electricity.

Kim Jong Il was probably the most repressive dictator on the planet at the time,[2] continuing his father's trend of making North Korea a giant prison no one is allowed to enter or leave. Very few people own cars, and large segments of the population face famine and disease thanks to the government's inability to provide even the basic necessities for its citizens (and this was while he employed a servant to inspect every grain of rice served to him and discarded any with the most minor of flaws).[3] At least part of this is due to the fact that military service is mandatory from age 18 to 35, taking some of the most productive members of the work force out of society, and the extreme emphasis on Kim's porn collection military spending (the Korean War never officially ended) also means there are few resources to allocate toward food production. Moreover, he stymied most attempts at foreign investment, despite efforts by South Korea to help.

In June 2009, Kim officially named his youngest son Kim Jong Un to be his successor. Not much is known about him other than that he enjoyed Jean-Claude Van Damme movies and Michael Jordan.[4] On December 17, 2011, Kim Jong Il had the good grace to die, and nothing of value was lost.

Old True Facts[5] About Glorious Dear Leader[edit]

  • Born on the Korean Holy Mountain Mount Paekdu. It was foretold by a swallow and heralded by a double rainbow. When he was born, a new star appeared in the night sky![3]
  • Glorious Leader was a genius as an infant, with official North Korean biographies stating that he had learned to walk at just 3 weeks and was talking at 8 weeks![3]
    • Imperialist Lie: For the first year of his life, Kim pooped his pants like the rest of us.
  • Glorious Leader wrote six full operas in two years and 1500 books while at Kim Il Sung University.[3]
    • Imperialist Lie: Even L. Ron Hubbard wouldn't lie about writing that much.
  • Dear leader had the ability to alter the weather simply through the power of thought.[3]
    • Imperialist Lie: Kim wishes he was Storm from the X-Men.
  • More powerful fashion trendsetter than all of Milan, Paris, or New York
  • Beloved around the world by billions.
    • Imperialist Lie: Most people don't know enough about him, but should probably learn more about the man who could have started World War III.
  • Invented a meal called the "Double Bread With Meat".
    • Imperialist Lie: This is also known as the sandwich, named after the Earl of Sandwich in the 18th century.
  • World's Greatest Golfer: When the first 18-hole golf course opened in North Korea, Dear Leader posted a -38 with 5 holes in one!
    • Imperialist Lie: Some guy named Eldrick "Tiger" Woods.
  • Dear Leader was a great movie producer.[6] Famed South Korean director Shin Sang-ok came north to create a unique masterpiece.
    • Imperialist Lie: Shin was kidnapped and imprisoned by Kim, who then made a cheap propaganda knockoff of Godzilla.[7][8][9][10]
  • Dear Leader could fly.
    • Imperialist Lie: Had a fear of flying and traveled via his bomb-proof train which he had lobsters airlifted to. In truth, he seems to have believed that "If God Kim Jong Il wanted people to fly, he would have given himself us wings".
  • Was the world's biggest buyer of Hennessy.
    • Imperialist Lie: Hennessy confirmed that Kim Jong Il was its biggest customer at one point, spending about $600,000 to $850,000 annually on their liquor.[5]
  • If he got addicted to a drug, everyone else did too!
    • Imperialist Lie: Kim was once injured by falling off his horse when it slipped on loose rocks. He was afraid of becoming addicted to the painkillers his doctors prescribed him, so he had members of his administrative staff injected daily with the same dosages he had to take.[5] Rush Limbaugh would be proud.
  • He had disabled and short people deported from Pyongyang. The capital must remain a pristine showplace.
    • Imperialist Lie: In preparation for the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1989, Kim Jong Il did have disabled residents removed from Pyongyang. The government also distributed pamphlets advertising a wonder drug that would increase the height of short people. Those who responded to the pamphlets were sent away to different uninhabited islands along with the disabled in an attempt to rid the next generation of their supposedly substandard genes.[5] Besides, removing all short people from Pyongyang would have left him in the rather difficult position of having to find a new residence from which to terrorize rule the country.[citation NOT needed]

And it seems that his death only inspired a new wave of True Facts. Several Kim-related secular miracles were "reported" after his death.[11]

But seriously...[edit]

Shortly after Kim's death, the NYT's Nicholas Kristof recalled a few of his encounters during his visit to North Korea. Americans and others had questioned the weepy reactions by North Koreans to the news of the Dear Leader's death. Kristof assured his readers that those reactions were very likely genuine for one obvious reason — North Koreans have no access to any dissenting voices, and they can't turn off the propaganda, either; they're fully brainwashed. Some of his recollections:

  • North Korean apartments and public spaces have propaganda speakers that double as clock radios. Everybody wakes up to an onslaught of propaganda every morning ("In his first golf outing, Comrade Kim Jong-il shoots five holes-in-one!"). The ubiquitous propaganda speaker one-ups the likes of Stalin and Mao, who were limited in their ability to pipe propaganda into every corner of their countries.
  • During ongoing famines, the media has "warned starving citizens against overeating by recounting the cautionary tale of a man who ate his fill, and then exploded."
  • He once approached two teenaged girls to ask them questions. As they spoke, their answers became synchronized state propaganda so that at the end they were talking like remote-controlled robots.
  • Ever see those satellite photos that show North Korea blacked out at night? It turns out that the police do this so they can go door-to-door and catch people watching videos smuggled in from China, since they can't be ejected without power.[note 1]
  • He also recounts an account from a Bradley Martin book. One of Kim's aides told his wife about the Dear Leader's womanizing. The wife wrote a letter to Kim, chastising him. Kim then brought the woman before a crowd and denounced her. And then (shudder) — "Her own husband then stepped forward, pleading to be allowed to execute her. This request was granted, and the husband then shot his wife to death."[12]


  1. While it was and still is possible to bribe police into letting it slide, the amount of money involved sounds like a mere pittance to Westerners, but represents weeks or months of what little most North Koreans make.


  1. As Rick Perry famously did when giving his reaction to the Dear Leader's death
  2. North Korean defector: 'I was Kim Jong Il's bodyguard', CNN
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 The Incredible Kim Jong-il and his Amazing Achievements, The Telegraph
  4. Son Named Heir to North Korea's Kim Studied in Switzerland, Reportedly Loves NBA, The Washington Post
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Listverse's Top 10 Crazy Facts About Kim Jong Il (Even more at Buzzfeed's 20 Ridiculous Things You Never Knew About Kim Jong-il)
  6. Kim Jong Il on the Art of the Cinema by Kim Jong Il (1989) Foreign Languages Publishing House.
  7. Stephen's Sound Advice - How to Be a Totalitarian Nutjob, The Colbert Report (Aired June 15, 2009)
  8. See the Wikipedia article on Pulgasari.
  9. A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power by Paul Fischer (2015) Flatiron Books. ISBN 1250054273.
  10. Pulgasari (1985) North Korean Giant Monster film with english subtitle (FULL MOVIE) YouTube
  11. Kim Jong-il death: 'Nature mourns' N Korea leader, BBC News
  12. "A New Kim. A New Chance?", The New York Times