He may have been one of the most ruthless dictators in modern history, but the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il was also an endless source of entertainment and an international laughing stock for his unusual antics. Here are some of the more amusing ‘facts’ about his life:
He kidnapped little people: Kim reportedly used pamphlets advertising wonder-growth drugs to lure “small people” into traps, from where they would be deported to “uninhabited islands” to remove their “substandard” stock from the gene pool. It turns out height was a bit of a sensitive spot for old Kim – no official records list his height, however estimates have him measuring in at only about 5’3”.
He was born under a double rainbow: According to Kim Jong Il’s official biography, he was born in a secret military camp on Baekdu Mountain during North Korea’s Japanese occupation, and his arrival was prophesied by a double rainbow and marked by the sight of a new star and a swallow in the sky.
He was the world’s greatest sportsman: According to national media, in 1994 Kim Jong Il shot a record-breaking round of golf in which he achieved 11 holes-in-one, and a total score of 38 – by far the greatest score in history. Even more amazing was that it was the first time he had even touched a club, having never before played the game before. No other media organisation picked up this amazing feat however, but it’s not like North Korean media ever lies, right?
He was God: According to reports, the former leader could make it rain or directly control the weather on demand, depending on his mood.
He kidnapped two directors to remake Godzilla: Kim kidnapped two respected South Korean directors in 1978 (Shin Sang Ok and Choi Eun Hee) and forced them to remake Godzilla. (That’s right, of all the movies this supposed ‘film buff’ could have picked, it was a cheesy Japanese monster flick). Their movie, Pulgasari, only emerged after the couple were forced to remarry in 1983 having spent years inside labour camps. They eventually escaped on a trip to Vienna, where they fled to the US embassy in 1986.
He liked the creature comforts...: According to Russian emissary Konstantin Pulikovsky, who travelled with Kim by train across Eastern Europe, Kim had live lobsters air-lifted to the train every day which he ate with silver chopsticks.
He drank $700k worth of cognac a year: According to a study by Dr Jerold Post, a former CIA psychologist, Kim loved Hennessey cognac – which sells for around US$630 a bottle in North Korea, or just under the average annual income (US$900). According to the study, he averaged around US$650,000 to US$720,000 of cognac a year.
He did not use toilets – because he didn’t need to: According to an official biography posted on the North Korean state web site, that has since been removed, Kim Jong-il did not defecate. Ever. Which begs the question as to where all that rabbit, lobster and cognac went after it entered his mouth.
He was a rice obsessive: According to a nephew of Kim's first wife, Lee Young Nam, the leader had female staff inspect each grain of rice he ate to make sure it adhered to strict standards of length, weight and colour.
He was the hamburglar: North Korean newspaper Minju Joson once reported that Kim Jong-Il had invented something called the “double bread with meat” and created factories to produce them in order to feed his students and teachers. Kim's great invention looked remarkably like the humble hamburger.