The weird, reclusive country was ruled by Kim for 17 years as a personal fiefdom, mixing breezy Stalinist ideology with a relentless cult of personality. Kim’s domestic management toolkit included a typical dictator's combination of absolute media control, secret police and a network of trembling informers. To help deal with international disapproval, he had nuclear bombs.
Kim was a master of propaganda and social manipulation, but he also suffered from delusional mania, profound insecurity and OCD. Here are some facts about him, as reported to the North Korean people by the country’s media.
- When Kim was born, suddenly spring broke out and a shower of rainbows appeared in the sky. Kim was the most prominent statesman in the world, and people around the globe celebrate his birthday with films and festivals.
- Kim invented a new sandwich called Double Bread with Meat, to provide best-quality food for Pyongyang’s university students. The dish bore a coincidental resemblance to the hated Americans’ beef burger.
- He was the best golfer in history, despite playing the game only once. In 1994 it was reported Kim shot 38 under par on a regulation 18-hole golf course, including 11 holes in one.
- Kim’s range of menswear became a style phenomenon. The inspired look of his zippered khaki tunics with matching trousers has spread across the world, testament to his image and influence.
And here are a couple of real facts.
- Before Pyongyang’s World Festival of Youth and Students in 1989, Kim had disabled residents removed from the city. His government also distributed pamphlets advertising a wonder drug which would increase the height of short people. Those who responded to the pamphlets were banished to uninhabited islands. Kim himself was just over five feet tall and wore built-up shoes. Clue there?
- Hennessy Cognac reported that for many years Kim was its best customer, spending about £500,000 annually. In comparison, the average North Korean makes about £600 per year, and under Kim's rule millions have starved.
Recently the Dear Leader’s third son, Kim Jong-Un, was unveiled as The Great Successor. Following in dad's footsteps, already his birthday has been made a national holiday. But should the new boy fail to step up, other leadership contenders are apparently the current Minister of Finance, Han Din-Til, and Foreign Minister Sen Din-Tanx. In an uncertain world it’s reassuring to know North Korea has a stable succession plan.