Kim Jong-il

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Full Name: Yuri Irsenovich Kim (birth name)
Alias: Kim Jong-il

The Supreme Leader
Dear Leader
Dear Father
Father of the People
Sun of the Nation
Fearless Leader
Great General
Great Successor
His Excellency
Glorious General Who Descended From Heaven
Shining Star of Paektu Mountain
The Second Sun
The Second Son

Origin: Vyatskoye, Russia
Occupation: Supreme Leader of North Korea (1994 – 2011)
General Secretary of Workers' Party of Korea (1997 - 2011)
Skills: High intelligence

Political power

Hobby: Watching old movies
Ruling North Korea
Killing North Korean defectors
Torturing and killing his enemies
Having sex with his pleasure squad
Commanding his troops and army
Goals: Fulfill his father's goal to take over the peninsula (failed)
Remain in power (succeeded)
Crimes: Terrorism
Mass murder
War crimes
Human rights violations
Crimes against humanity
Type of Villain: Oppressive Tyrant

Nothing is impossible for a man with a strong will. The possible is in store for only a man who loves the future. There is no 'impossible' in the Korean language.
~ Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong-Il; born as Yuri Irsenovich Kim, also romanized as Kim Jong-Il or Kim Jung-il, (February 16th 1941 – December 17th, 2011) was the supreme leader of North Korea (DPRK) from 1994 to his death in 2011. He succeeded his father and founder of the DPRK Kim Il-sung, following his death in 1994. Jong-il was the General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea, and the supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, the 4th-largest standing army in the world.

Kim Jong-il continued his father's rabid hold on the nation of North Korea, where the citizens have virtually no rights whatsoever. He, however, also held the strongest of all militaries and was still generally less brutal than his father was. In December 2011, Jong-il died from a series of stroke and heart failure and was soon succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un. After his death, he was made an Eternal Leader of North Korea, and a bronze statue of him was built next to Kim Il-sung's. The death total was 2 million and many historias considered him to be even worse than Kim Il-sung.


Like his father Kim Il-sung, Jong-il had pteromerhanophobia (fear of flying) and he always traveled by private armored train for state visits to Russia and China. The BBC reported that Konstantin Pulikovsky, a Russian emissary who traveled with Jong-il across Russia by train, told reporters that Jong-il had live lobsters air-lifted to the train every day.

Jong-il was said to be a huge movie fan, owning a collection of more than 20,000 video tapes and DVDs. His reported favorite movie franchises included Friday the 13th, Rambo, Godzilla, and Hong Kong action cinema, and any movie starring Elizabeth Taylor. He authored On the Art of the Cinema. In 1978, on Jong-il's orders, South Korean movie director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-hee were kidnapped in order to build a North Korean film industry. In 2006, he was involved in the production of the Juche-based movie, The Schoolgirl's Diary, which depicted the life of a young girl whose parents are scientists, with a KCNA news report stating that Jong-il "improved its script and guided its production".

In a 2011 news story, The Sun reported, "Kim Jong-il was obsessed with Elvis Presley. His mansion was crammed with his idol's records and his collection of 20,000 Hollywood movies included Presley's titles — along with Rambo and Godzilla. He even copied the King's Vegas-era look of giant shades, jumpsuits and bouffant hairstyle. It was reported in 2003 that Kim Jong-il had a huge porn film collection."

Although Jong-il enjoyed many foreign forms of entertainment, according to former bodyguard Lee Young Kuk, he refused to consume any food or drink not produced in North Korea, with the exception of wine from France. However, his former chef Kenji Fujimoto has stated that Jong-il sometimes sent him around the world to purchase a variety of foreign delicacies.

Jong-il reportedly enjoyed basketball. Former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ended her summit with Jong-il by presenting him with a basketball signed by Michael Jordan. Also an apparent golfer, North Korean state media reports that Jong-il routinely shot 3 or 4 holes-in-one per round. His official biography also claims that Jong-il composed six operas and enjoys staging elaborate musicals. Jong-il called himself an Internet expert.

United States Special Envoy for the Korean Peace Talks, Charles Kartman, who was involved in the 2000 Madeleine Albright summit with Jong-il, characterized him as a reasonable man in negotiations, to the point, but with a sense of humor and personally attentive to the people he was hosting. However, psychological evaluations conclude that Jong-il's antisocial features, such as his fearlessness in the face of sanctions and punishment, served to make negotiations extraordinarily difficult.

The field of psychology has long been fascinated with the personality assessment of dictators, a notion that resulted in an extensive personality evaluation of Kim Jong-il. The report, compiled by Frederick L. Coolidge and Daniel L. Segal (with the assistance of a South Korean psychiatrist considered an expert on Jong-il's behavior), concluded that the "big six" group of personality disorders shared by dictators Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Saddam Hussein (borderline, sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid, and schizotypal) were also shared by Jong-il — coinciding primarily with the profile of Hussein.

The evaluation found Jong-il appeared to pride himself on North Korea's independence, despite the extreme hardships it appears to place on the North Korean people — an attribute appearing to emanate from his antisocial personality pattern. This notion also encourages other cognitive issues, such as self-deception, as subsidiary components to Jong-il's personality.

Defectors claimed that Jong-il had 17 different palaces and residences all over North Korea, including a private resort near Baekdu Mountain, a seaside lodge in the city of Wonsan, and Ryongsong Residence, a palace complex northeast of Pyongyang surrounded with multiple fence lines, bunkers and anti-aircraft batteries.


According to the Sunday Telegraph, Jong-il had US$4 billion on deposit in European banks in case he ever needed to flee North Korea. The Sunday Telegraph reported that most of the money was in banks in Luxembourg.

Cult of personality

Mount Peaktu reaches across
Shaping our beautiful land!
Cheers resound throughout the land
As our general is proudly hailed!
The people he valiantly leads
The cause of the sun, he carries on!
Long live, long live,
General Kim Jong-il!
~ Song of General Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong-il was the center of an elaborate personality cult inherited from his father and founder of the DPRK Kim Il-sung. Defectors have been quoted as saying that North Korean schools deify both father and son. He was often the center of attention throughout ordinary life in the DPRK. On his 60th birthday (based on his official date of birth), mass celebrations occurred throughout the country on the occasion of his Hwangab. Many North Koreans believed that he had the "magical" ability to "control the weather" based on his mood. In 2010, the North Korean media reported that Jong-il's distinctive clothing had set worldwide fashion trends. One point of view is that Jong-il's cult of personality was solely out of respect for Il-sung or out of fear of punishment for failure to pay homage. Media and government sources from outside of North Korea generally support this view, while North Korean government sources aver it was a genuine hero worship. The song "No Motherland Without You," sung by the KPA State Merited Choir, was created especially for Jong-il in 1992 and is frequently broadcast on the radio and from loudspeakers on the streets of Pyongyang.

After Jong-il's death, a bronze statue of him was built and placed next to the statue of Kim Il-sung. When visiting these statues, both North Koreans and tourists are required to bow, and are also recommended to leave flowers as a sign of respect.



Soviet records show that Jong-il was born in the village of Vyatskoye, near Khabarovsk, in February 16, 1941, where his father Kim Il-sung commanded the 1st Battalion of the Soviet 88th Brigade, made up of Chinese and Korean exiles. Jong-il's mother Kim Jong-suk was Il-sung's first wife.

However, Jong-il's official biography states he was born in a secret military camp on Baekdu Mountain (Korean: 백두산밀영고향집) in Japanese-occupied Korea on February 16, 1942. Official biographers claim that his birth at Baekdu Mountain was foretold by a swallow, and heralded by the appearance of a double rainbow across the sky over the mountain and a new star in the heavens.

In 1945, Jong-il was 4 years old when World War II ended and Korea regained independence from Japan. His father returned to Pyongyang that September, and in late November, he returned to Korea through a Soviet ship, landing at Sonbong (선봉군, also Unggi). The family moved into a former Japanese officer's mansion in Pyongyang, with a garden and pool. Jong-il's brother "Shura" Kim (the first Kim Pyong-il, but known by his Russian nickname) drowned there in 1948. Unconfirmed reports suggest that 5-year-old Jong-il might have caused the accident.

In 1949, his mother died in childbirth. Unconfirmed reports suggest that his mother might have been shot and left to bleed to death.


According to his official biography, Jong-il completed the course of general education between September 1950 and August 1960. He attended Primary School No. 4 and Middle School No. 1 (Namsan Higher Middle School) in Pyongyang. This is contested by foreign academics, who believe he is more likely to have received his early education in the People's Republic of China as a precaution to ensure his safety during the Korean War.

Throughout his schooling, Jong-il was involved in politics. He was active in the Children's Union and the Democratic Youth League (DYL), taking part in study groups of Marxist political theory, communism, and other literature. In September 1957 he became vice-chairman of his middle school's DYL branch (the chairman had to be a teacher). He pursued a program of anti-factionalism and he tried to encourage greater ideological education among his classmates.

Jong-il is also said to have received English language education at the University of Malta in the early 1970s, on his infrequent holidays in Malta as guest of Prime Minister Dom Mintoff.

The elder Kim had meanwhile remarried and had another son named Kim Pyong-il (named after Jong-il's drowned brother). Since 1988, Pyong-il has served in a series of North Korean embassies in Europe and is the North Korean ambassador to Poland. Foreign commentators suspect that Pyong-il was sent to these distant posts by his father in order to avoid a power struggle between his two sons.

Presidium member and party secretary (1980–1994)

By the time of the Sixth Party Congress in October 1980, Jong-il's control of the Party operation was complete. He was given senior posts in the Politburo, the Military Commission and the party Secretariat. According to his official biography, the WPK Central Committee had already anointed him successor to Kim Il-sung in February 1974. When he was made a member of the Seventh Supreme People's Assembly in February 1982, international observers deemed him the heir apparent of North Korea.

At this time, Jong-il assumed the title "Dear Leader" (친애하는 지도자, ch'inaehanŭn jidoja) the government began building a personality cult around him patterned after that of his father, the "Great Leader." Jong-il was regularly hailed by the media as the "fearless leader" and "the great successor to the revolutionary cause." He emerged as the most powerful figure behind his father in North Korea.

On December 24, 1991, Jong-il was also named supreme commander of the North Korean armed forces. Since the Army is the real foundation of power in North Korea, this was a vital step. Defence Minister Oh Jin-wu, one of Il-sung's most loyal subordinates, engineered Jong-il's acceptance by the Army as the next leader of North Korea, despite his lack of military service. The only other possible leadership candidate, Prime Minister Kim Il (no relation), was removed from his posts in 1976. In 1992, Il-sung publicly stated that his son was in charge of all internal affairs in the Democratic People's Republic.

In 1992, radio broadcasts started calling him the "Dear Father," instead of the "Dear Leader," suggesting a promotion. His 50th birthday in February was the occasion for massive celebrations, exceeded only by those for the 80th birthday of Il-sung himself on 15 April that same year.

According to defector Hwang Jang-yop, the North Korean government system became even more centralized and autocratic during the 1980s and 1990s under Jong-il than it had been under his father. In one example explained by Hwang, although Il-sung required his ministers to be loyal to him, he nonetheless and frequently sought their advice during decision-making. In contrast, Jong-il demanded absolute obedience and agreement from his ministers and party officials with no advice or compromise, and he viewed any slight deviation from his thinking as a sign of disloyalty. According to Hwang, Jong-il personally directed even minor details of state affairs, such as the size of houses for party secretaries and the delivery of gifts to his subordinates.

By the 1980s, North Korea began to experience severe economic stagnation. Il-sung's policy of juche (self-reliance) cut the country off from almost all external trade, even with its traditional partners, the Soviet Union and China.

South Korea accused Jong-il of ordering the 1983 bombing in Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar), which killed 17 visiting South Korean officials, including 4 cabinet members, and another in 1987 which killed all 115 on board Korean Air Flight 858. A North Korean agent named Kim Hyon-hui confessed to planting a bomb in the case of the second, saying the operation was ordered by Jong-il personally.

In 1992, Jong-il's voice was broadcast within North Korea for the first time during a military parade for the KPA's 60th year anniversary in Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Square, in which Il-sung attended with Jong-il by his side. After Il-sung's speech, and the parade inspection his son approached the microphone at the grandstand in response to the report of the parade inspector and simply said: "Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People's Army!". Everyone in the audience applauded and the parade participants at the square grounds (which included veteran soldiers and officers of the KPA) shouted "10,000 years" 3 times after that.

He was named Chairman of the National Defence Commission on April 9, 1993, making him day-to-day commander of the armed forces.

Ruler of North Korea

On July 8, 1994, Kim Il-sung died at the age of 82 from a heart attack. However, it took 3 years for Jong-il to consolidate his power. On January 1, 1995, Jong-il inspected a unit of the Korean People's Army, which was his first official action as his father's successor. This act came amid much speculation over North Korea's direction after Il-sung's death. On October 10, Jong-il reviewed a massive military parade and a procession of 1,000,000 people in Pyongyang, marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the country's ruling Workers' Party of Korea in what was his first major public appearance after his father's death.

He officially took over his father's old post as General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea on October 8, 1997. In 1998, he was reelected as chairman of the National Defense Commission, and that post was declared to be "the highest post of the state"; most sources outside North Korea reckoned Jong-il as North Korea's head of state from that date. Also in 1998, the Supreme People's Assembly wrote the president's post out of the constitution in memory of Kim Il-sung, who was designated the country's "Eternal President." It can be argued, though, that he became the country's undisputed leader when he became leader of the Workers' Party; in most communist countries the party leader is the most powerful person in the country.

Officially, Jong-il was part of a triumvirate heading the executive branch of the North Korean government along with Premier Choe Yong-rim and parliament chairman Kim Yong-nam (no relations). Each nominally held powers equivalent to a third of a president's powers in most other presidential systems. Jong-il was commander of the armed forces, Yong-rim headed the government and Yong-nam handled foreign relations. In practice, however, Jong-il exercised absolute control over the government and the country. Although not required to stand for popular election to his key offices, he was unanimously elected to the Supreme People's Assembly every 5 years, representing a military constituency, because of his concurrent capacities as KPA Supreme Commander and Chairman of the DPRK NDC.

Economic policies

The state-controlled economy of North Korea struggled throughout the 1990s, primarily because of mismanagement. In addition, North Korea experienced severe floods in the mid-1990s, exacerbated by poor land management. This, compounded with only 18% arable land and an inability to import the goods necessary to sustain industry, led to an immense famine and left North Korea in economic shambles. Faced with a country in decay, Jong-il adopted a "Military-First" policy (선군정치, Sŏn'gun chŏngch'i) to strengthen the country and reinforce the regime. On the national scale, a North Korean spokesman has claimed that this has resulted in a positive growth rate for the country since 1996, with the implementation of "landmark socialist-type market economic practices" in 2002 keeping the North afloat despite a continued dependency on foreign aid for food

In the wake of the devastation of the 1990s, the government began formally approving some activity of small-scale bartering and trade. As observed by Daniel Sneider, associate director for research at the Stanford University Asia-Pacific Research Center, this flirtation with capitalism was "fairly limited, but — especially compared to the past — there are now remarkable markets that create the semblance of a free market system."

In 2002, Jong-il declared that "money should be capable of measuring the worth of all commodities." These gestures toward economic reform mirror similar actions taken by the Communist Party of China in the late 1980s and early 90s. During a rare visit in 2006, Jong-il expressed admiration for China's rapid economic progress.

Foreign relations

Kim talking with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their 2001 meeting in Moscow.

Kim was known as a skilled and manipulative diplomat. In 1998, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung implemented the "Sunshine Policy" to improve North-South relations and to allow South Korean companies to start projects in the North. Kim announced plans to import and develop new technologies to develop North Korea's fledgling software industry. As a result of the new policy, the Kaesong Industrial Park was constructed in 2003 just north of the de-militarized zone.

Human rights record

According to a 2004 Human Rights Watch report, the North Korean government under Kim was "among the world's most repressive governments", having up to 200,000 political prisoners according to U.S. and South Korean officials, and no freedom of the press or religion, political opposition or equal education: "Virtually every aspect of political, social, and economic life is controlled by the government."

Jong-il's government was accused of crimes against humanity for its alleged culpability in creating and prolonging the 1990s famine.

Health and waning power rumors

2008 reports

In an August 2008 issue of the Japanese newsweekly Shūkan Gendai, Waseda University professor Toshimitsu Shigemura, an authority on the Korean Peninsula, claimed that Jong-il died of diabetes in late 2003 and had been replaced in public appearances by one or more stand-ins previously employed to protect him from assassination attempts. In a subsequent best-selling book called The True Character of Kim Jong-il, Shigemura cited apparently unnamed people close to Jong-il's family along with Japanese and South Korean intelligence sources, claiming they confirmed Jong-il's diabetes took a turn for the worse early in 2000 and from then until his supposed death 3½ years later he was using a wheelchair. Shigemura moreover claimed a voiceprint analysis of Jong-il speaking in 2004 did not match a known earlier recording. It was also noted that Jong-il did not appear in public for the Olympic torch relay in Pyongyang on April 28, 2008. The question had reportedly "baffled foreign intelligence agencies for years."

On September 9, 2008, various sources reported that after he didn't show up that day for a military parade celebrating North Korea's 60th anniversary, United States intelligence agencies believed Jong-il might be "gravely ill" after having suffered a stroke. He had last been seen in public a month earlier. A former CIA official said earlier reports of a health crisis were likely accurate. North Korean media remained silent on the issue. An Associated Press report said analysts believed Jong-il had been supporting moderates in the foreign ministry, while North Korea's powerful military was against so-called "Six-Party" negotiations with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States aimed towards ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons. Some United States officials noted that soon after rumors about Jong-il's health were publicized a month before, North Korea had taken a "tougher line in nuclear negotiations."

In late August, North Korea's official news agency reported the government would "consider soon a step to restore the nuclear facilities in Nyongbyon to their original state as strongly requested by its relevant institutions." Analysts said this meant "the military may have taken the upper hand and that Jong-il might no longer be wielding absolute authority."

By September 10, there were conflicting reports. Unidentified South Korean government officials said Jong-il had undergone surgery after suffering a minor stroke and had apparently "intended to attend 9 September event in the afternoon but decided not to because of the aftermath of the surgery." High-ranking North Korean official Kim Yong-nam said, "While we wanted to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the country with General Secretary Kim Jong-il, we celebrated on our own." Song Il-ho, North Korea's ambassador, said, "We see such reports as not only worthless, but rather as a conspiracy plot." Seoul's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that "the South Korean embassy in Beijing had received an intelligence report that Jong-il collapsed on 22 August."

The New York Times reported on September 9 that Jong-il was "very ill and most likely suffered a stroke a few weeks ago, but United States intelligence authorities do not think his death is imminent." The BBC noted that the North Korean government denied these reports, stating that Jong-il's health problems were "not serious enough to threaten his life", although they did confirm that he had suffered a stroke on August 15.

Japan's Kyodo News agency reported on September 14, that "Kim collapsed on 14 August due to stroke or a cerebral hemorrhage, and that Beijing dispatched 5 military doctors at the request of Pyongyang. Kim will require a long period of rest and rehabilitation before he fully recovers and has complete command of his limbs again, as with typical stroke victims." Japan's Mainichi Shimbun claimed Jong-il had occasionally lost consciousness since April. Japan's Tokyo Shimbun on September 15, added that Jong-il was staying at the Bongwha State Guest House. He was apparently conscious "but he needs some time to recuperate from the recent stroke, with some parts of his hands and feet paralyzed". It cited Chinese sources which claimed that one cause for the stroke could have been stress brought about by the United States delay to remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

On October 19, North Korea reportedly ordered its diplomats to stay near their embassies to await "an important message", according to Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, setting off renewed speculation about the health of the ailing leader. By October 29, 2008, reports stated Jong-il suffered a serious setback and had been taken back to hospital. The New York Times reported that Taro Aso, on October 28, 2008, stated in a parliamentary session that Jong-il had been hospitalized: "His condition is not so good. However, I don't think he is totally incapable of making decisions." Aso further said a French neurosurgeon was aboard a plane for Beijing, en route to North Korea. Further, Kim Sung-ho, director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, told lawmakers in a closed parliamentary session in Seoul that "Kim appeared to be recovering quickly enough to start performing his daily duties."

The Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported "a serious problem" with Jong-il's health. Japan's Fuji Television network reported that Jong-il's eldest son Kim Jong-nam traveled to Paris to hire a neurosurgeon for his father, and showed footage where the surgeon boarded flight CA121 bound for Pyongyang from Beijing on October 24. The French weekly Le Point identified him as Francois-Xavier Roux, neurosurgery director of Paris' Sainte-Anne Hospital, but Roux himself stated he was in Beijing for several days and not North Korea. On December 19, 2011, Roux confirmed that Jong-il suffered a debilitating stroke in 2008 and he was treated by himself and other French doctors at Pyongyang's Red Cross Hospital. Roux said that Jong-il suffered few lasting effects.

On November 5, 2008, the North's Korean Central News Agency published 2 photos showing Jong-il posing with dozens of Korean People's Army (KPA) soldiers on a visit to military Unit 2200 and sub-unit of Unit 534. Shown with his usual bouffant hairstyle, with his trademark sunglasses and a white winter parka, Jong-il stood in front of trees with autumn foliage and a red-and-white banner. The Times questioned the authenticity of at least one of these photos.

In November 2008, Japan's TBS TV network reported that Jong-il had suffered a second stroke in October, which "affected the movement of his left arm and leg and also his ability to speak." However, South Korea's intelligence agency rejected this report.

In response to the rumors regarding Jong-il's health and supposed loss of power, in April 2009, North Korea released a video showing Jong-il visiting factories and other places around the country between November and December 2008. In 2010, documents released by WikiLeaks purportedly attested that Jong-il suffered from epilepsy.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Jong-il was a chain-smoker.


Jong-il's three sons and his brother-in-law, along with O Kuk-ryol (an army general), had been noted as possible successors, but the North Korean government had for a time been wholly silent on this matter.

Kim Yong-hyun, a political expert at the Institute for North Korean Studies at Seoul's Dongguk University, has said, "Even the North Korean establishment would not advocate a continuation of the family dynasty at this point." Jong-il's eldest son Kim Jong-nam was earlier believed to be the designated heir, but he appears to have fallen out of favor after being arrested at Narita International Airport near Tokyo in 2001 while traveling on a forged passport.

On June 2, 2009, it was reported that Jong-il's youngest son Kim Jong-un was to be North Korea's next leader. Like his father and grandfather, he has also been given an official sobriquet, The Brilliant Comrade. Prior to his death, it had been reported that Jong-il was expected to officially designate the son as his successor in 2012.

Re-election as DPRK leader

On April 9, 2009, Jong-il was re-elected as chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission, and made an appearance at the Supreme People's Assembly. This was the first time Kim was seen in public since August 2008. He was unanimously re-elected and given a standing ovation.

On September 28, 2010, Jong-il was re-elected as General secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea.

2010 and 2011 foreign visits

Jong-il with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Sosnovy-Bor Military garrison, Zaigrayevsky District Buriatya on August 24, 2011.

Jong-il reportedly visited the People's Republic of China in May 2010. He entered the country through his personal train on May 3, and stayed in a hotel in Dalian. In May 2010, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell told South Korean officials that Jong-il had only 3 years to live. He traveled to China again in August 2010, this time with his son, fueling speculation that he is ready to hand over power to Kim Jong-un.

He returned to China again in May 2011, marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between China and the DPRK. In late August 2011, Jong-il traveled by train to the Russian Far East to meet with President Dmitry Medvedev for unspecified talks.


It was reported that Jong-il had died of a suspected heart attack on 17 December 2011 at 8:30 while traveling by train to an area outside Pyongyang. However, it was reported in December 2012 that he had died "in a fit of rage" over construction faults at a crucial power plant project at Huichon in Jagang Province. Jong-il was succeeded by his youngest son Kim Jong-un, who was hailed by the Korean Central News Agency as the "Great Successor". The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report that during his death, a fierce snowstorm paused and the sky glowed red above the sacred Mount Paektu. The ice on a famous lake also cracked so loud, it seemed to shake the Heavens and the Earth.

Jong-il's funeral took place on December 28 in Pyongyang, with a mourning period lasting until the following day. South Korea's military was immediately put on alert after the announcement and its National Security Council convened for an emergency meeting, out of concern that political jockeying in North Korea could destabilise the region. Asian stock markets fell soon after the announcement because of similar concerns.

On 12 January 2012, North Korea called Jong-il the "Eternal Leader" and announced that his body will be preserved and displayed at Pyongyang's Kumsusan Memorial Palace. Officials will also install statues, portraits, and "towers to his immortality" across the country. His birthday of February 16 has been declared "the greatest auspicious holiday of the nation", and has been named the Day of the Shining Star.

On 8 February 2012, the Mayor Aprist, the Alanist José Gordillo of distrit Breña (Lima, Peru) awarded posthumously to him with civic medal for his brilliant professional career, adding efforts for the seeking of the nations and the distinction was delivered symbolically to his son Kim Jong-un. In the same month, what would've been his 71st birthday, Jong-il posthumously was made Dae Wonsu (usually translated as Generalissimo, literally Grand Marshal), the nation's top military rank. In December of the same year, North Korea created the International Kim Jong-IL Prize in honor to him. He had been named Wonsu, (Marshal) in 1992 when Kim Il-sung was promoted to Dae Wonsu.

Personal life


There is no official information available about Jong-il's marital history, but he is believed to have been officially married once and to have had 3 mistresses. He has 5 known children:

  • Kim Jong-nam (son)
  • Kim Sul-song (daughter)
  • Kim Jong-chul (son)
  • Kim Jong-un (son)
  • Kim Yo-jong (daughter)

Jong-il's first mistress Song Hye-rim was a star of North Korean movies. She was already married to another man and with a child when they met; Jong-il is reported to have forced her husband to divorce her. This relationship, started in 1970, wasn't officially recognized. They had one son, Kim Jong-nam (born 1971) who is Jong-il's eldest son. He kept both the relationship and the child a secret (even from Kim Il-sung) until Jong-il ascended to power in 1994. However, after years of estrangement, Hye-rim is believed to have died in Moscow in the Central Clinical Hospital in 2002.

Jong-il's official wife Kim Young-sook was the daughter of a high-ranking military official. His father Kim Il-sung handpicked her to marry his son. The two were estranged for some years before Il-sung's death. Jong-il had a daughter from this marriage named Kim Sul-song (born 1974).

His second mistress Ko Young-hee was a Japanese-born ethnic Korean and a dancer. She had taken over the role of First Lady until her death in 2004. They had two sons: Kim Jong-chul in 1981 and Kim Jong-un (also "Jong Woon" or "Jong Woong") in 1983. They also had a daughter named Kim Yo-jong, who was about 23 years old in 2012.

After Young-hee's death, Jong-il lived with Kim Ok, his third mistress, who had served as his personal secretary since the 1980s. She "virtually acts as North Korea's first lady" and frequently accompanied Jong-il on his visits to military bases and in meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries. She traveled with Jong-il on a secretive trip to China in January 2006, where she was received by Chinese officials as his wife.

He reportedly had a younger sister named Kim Kyong-hui (김경희).


According to North Korean sources, Kim published some 890 works during a period of his career from June 1964 to June 1994. According to KCNA, the number of works from 1964 to 2001 was 550. In 2000, it was reported that the Workers' Party of Korea Publishing House has published at least 120 works by Kim. The Selected Works of Kim Jong-il (Enlarged Edition), whose publishing has continued posthumously, runs into volume 24 in Korean and to volume 15 in English. Volumes three to eight were never published in English.

The Complete Collection of Kim Jong-il's Works is currently in volume 13.[166] There is a "Kim Jong-il's Works Exhibition House" dedicated to his works in North Korea, holding 1,100 of his works and manuscripts.

In his teens and university years, Kim wrote poems. He also wrote song lyrics. His first major literary work was On the Art of the Cinema in 1973.


A painting of Kim Jong-il at Mount Paektu, his alleged birthplace.

In keeping with the modern mythologies that pervade North Korea's version of history, which is seen as crucial to the cult of personality and political control, it is alleged that Kim Jong-il was born on Mount Paektu at his father's secret base in 1942 (his actual birth was in 1941 in the Soviet Union) and that his birth was heralded by a swallow, caused winter to change to spring, a star to illuminate the sky, and a double rainbow spontaneously appeared. These claims, like those surrounding his father, are apocryphal and continued throughout his life.

Starting in the early 1970s Kim Il-sung began to contemplate the succession question, albeit surreptitiously at first, but by 1975 Kim Jong-il was referred to as the "party center", or in connection with his father with references to "our great suryong (supreme leader) and the party center". In 1977, the first confirmation of Kim Jong-il's succession by name was published in a booklet which designated the younger Kim as the only heir to Kim Il-sung, that he was a loyal servant of his father and had inherited his father's virtues, and that all party members were to pledge their loyalty to Kim Jong-il. They were also urged to support his absolute authority and to obey him unconditionally.

Prior to 1996, Kim Jong-il forbade the erection of statues of himself and discouraged portraits. However, in 1996, schools were required to build a separate room for lectures dealing specifically with Kim Jong-il known as the Kim Jong-il Research Institute. They include a model of his birthplace. There are approximately 40,000 "research institutes" (total includes both Kim Il-sung's and Kim Jong-il's) throughout the country.

Between 1973 and 2012, Jong-il accumulated no fewer than 54 titles, most of which had little to do or nothing at all with real political or military accomplishments since he never had any military training. His most common title was "Dear Leader."

Over the course of his life, the government issued numerous propaganda reports of the great accomplishments achieved by Kim Jong-il, such as that he could walk and talk before the age of six months. The North Korean newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, reported that an "unidentified French fashion expert" said of Kim's fashion, "Kim Jong-il mode, which is now spreading expeditiously worldwide, is something unprecedented in the world's history." The Korean Central News Agency has also reported, among other things, that according to eyewitness accounts "nature and the sky unfolded such mysterious ecstasy in celebration of the birthday of Kim Jong Il.

To commemorate Kim Jong-il's 46th birthday, Japanese botanist Kamo Mototeru cultivated a new perennial begonia named "Kimjongilia" (literally, "flower of Kim Jong-il").

Kim received numerous titles during his rule. In April 2009, North Korea's constitution was amended to refer to him and his successors as the "supreme leader of the DPRK".

  • Party Center of the WPK and Member, Central Committee of the WPK (1970s)
  • Dear Leader (Chinaehaneun Jidoja) (late 1970s–1994)
  • Member, Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK
  • Secretary, Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (1974–1997)
  • Presidium Member of the Politburo, WPK Central Committee (1980–2011)
  • Supreme Commander, Korean People's Army (25 December 1991 – 17 December 2011)
  • Marshal of the DPRK (1993–2011)
  • Chairman, National Defence Commission of North Korea (1993–2011)
  • Great Leader (Widehan Ryongdoja) (July 1994 – December 2011)
  • General Secretary, Workers' Party of Korea (October 1997 – December 2011)
  • Chairman, Central Military Commission (DPRK) (October 1997 – December 2011)
  • Eternal Leader (posthumous) (January 2012 – present)
  • Generalissimo of the DPRK (posthumous) (January 2012 – present)
  • Eternal General Secretary, Worker's Party of Korea (posthumous) (11 April 2012 – present)
  • Eternal Chairman of the National Defence of Commission (posthumous) (13 April 2012 – present)




  • Legend has it 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. Soviet 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. While at Kim Il Sung University, he apparently wrote 1,500 books over a period of three years, along with six full operas. According to his official biography, all of his operas are “better than any in the history of music." Then there's his sporting prowess. 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.
  • Kim was said to be an avid film collector, amassing more than 20,000 videotapes and DVDs. His favourite flicks reportedly included Friday the 13th, Rambo, Godzilla, Hong Kong action films, and anything starring Elizabeth Taylor. In 1978, he ordered the kidnapping of a South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-hee so they could build a North Korean film industry. A decade later, they reportedly escaped while on a trip to Austria, and have since been granted refuge in the United States.