News / Asia

Kim Jong Il Led North Korea With Power of Personality

Kim Jong Il
Kim Jong Il

Kim Jong Il ruled North Korea for 17 years, continuing a government focused on the principle of self-reliance and a cult of personality founded by his father, Kim Il Sung.

There is not much reliable personal information about the enigmatic Kim.  According to local legend, he was born on North Korea's Mount Paekdu under rainbows and the appearance of a new star in 1942.  But his birth is believed to have actually taken place in Siberia in the Soviet Union in 1941.

Little is known about Kim's childhood.  He graduated from Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung University in 1964.

In the 1970s, Kim was named to leadership positions in the ruling party, beginning two decades of grooming to replace his father as the country's leader.  

He had a reputation for a lavish lifestyle that included a fondness for fine foods, cognac and women, which continued after he took power following his father's death in 1994.

Kim was also said to be a fan of the cinema.  In addition to owning a large movie collection, he produced several films of his own.  A South Korean director and actress said they were kidnapped and forced to make films for the man North Koreans called "Dear Leader."

He was accused of playing a role in a 1983 bombing that killed 17 South Korean officials visiting Burma, as well as the 1987 bombing of a Korea Air flight that killed 115 people.  Neither allegation has been proven.

Kim continued his revered father's governing principles, but lacked his charisma.  Still, Kim cultivated his own force of personality exemplified by his bouffant hairdo, jumpsuits and large sunglasses.

He poured the impoverished and reclusive country's resources into the military, creating the world's fifth-largest force, while many North Koreans suffered from hunger.

His international relations were dominated by North Korea's push to develop nuclear arms.  Former U.S. president George W. Bush called Kim a "tyrant" who starved his own people so he could build nuclear weapons.

North Korea conducted a nuclear test in 2006, and in 2007 agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for aid.  But the country is estimated to have enough nuclear material to produce several atomic bombs, and multi-party negotiations to convince North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program have stalled.

Kim's marital status was not clear, but he is said to have been married once, with at least a few other companions, and has at least three sons.  His youngest son, Kim Jong Un, has been groomed as his successor.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid