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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
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.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid