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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More