78 Facts About Kim Jong-il


Kim Jong-il led North Korea from the 1994 death of his father Kim Il-sung, the first Supreme Leader, until his own death in 2011, when he was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un.

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Kim Jong-il was the General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, WPK Presidium, Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, the fourth-largest standing army in the world.

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Kim Jong-il ruled North Korea as a repressive and totalitarian dictatorship.

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Kim Jong-il assumed leadership during a period of catastrophic economic crisis amidst the dissolution of the Soviet Union, on which it was heavily dependent for trade in food and other supplies, which brought a famine.

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Kim Jong-il strengthened the role of the military by his Songun policies, making the army the central organizer of civil society.

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Kim Jong-il's rule saw tentative economic reforms, including the opening of the Kaesong Industrial Park in 2003.

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On 19 December 2011, the North Korean government announced that he had died two days earlier, whereupon his third son, Kim Jong-il Jong-un, was promoted to a senior position in the ruling WPK and succeeded him.

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Soviet records show that Kim Jong-il was born Yuri Irsenovich Kim .

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Inside his family, he was nicknamed "Yura", while his younger brother Kim Jong-il Man-il was born on Alexander Irsenovich Kim Jong-il and was nicknamed "Shura".

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Kim Jong-il's official biography states he was born in a secret military camp on Paektu Mountain in Chosen on 16 February 1942.

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In 1945, Kim Jong-il was four years old when World War II ended and Korea regained independence from Japan.

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Kim Jong-il attended Primary School No 4 and Middle School No 1 in Pyongyang.

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Kim Jong-il was active in the Korean Children's Union and the Democratic Youth League of North Korea, taking part in study groups of Marxist political theory and other literature.

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Kim Jong-il pursued a programme of anti-factionalism and attempted to encourage greater ideological education among his classmates.

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Kim Jong-il is said to have received English language education in Malta in the early 1970s on his infrequent holidays there as a guest of Prime Minister Dom Mintoff.

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Elder Kim Jong-il had meanwhile remarried and had another son, Kim Jong-il Pyong-il.

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Since 1988, Kim Jong-il Pyong-il has served in a series of North Korean embassies in Europe and was the North Korean ambassador to Poland.

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Foreign commentators suspect that Kim Jong-il Pyong-il was sent to these distant posts by his father in order to avoid a power struggle between his two sons.

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Kim Jong-il officially joined the Workers' Party of Korea in July 1961.

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Kim Jong-il rose up the ranks during the 1960s, and benefited greatly from the Kapsan Faction Incident around March 1967, which was the last credible challenge to Kim Il-sung's rule.

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Kim Jong-il's name was mentioned in public documents, possibly for the first time, indicating that Kim Il-sung might have already planned for the younger to succeed him as leader.

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Only six months after, in an unscheduled meeting of the party, Kim Jong-il Il-sung called for loyalty in the film industry that had betrayed him with An Act of Sincerity.

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Kim Jong-il himself announced that he was up to the task and thus begun his influential career in North Korean film-making.

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At the time, the WPK was heavily focusing ideologically on Kim Il-sung's Juche; while Kim Jong-il actively stood for this process, Kim Yong-ju, having studied in the Soviet Union, supported a more classical view of Marxism and was not fond of the extensive personality cult built around his brother.

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Kim Jong-il was given senior posts in the Presidium, the Military Commission and the party Secretariat.

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Kim Jong-il was regularly hailed by the media as the "fearless leader" and "the great successor to the revolutionary cause".

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Kim Jong-il emerged as the most powerful figure behind his father in North Korea.

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South Korea accused Kim Jong-il of ordering the 1983 bombing in Rangoon, Burma which killed 17 visiting South Korean officials, including four cabinet members, and another in 1987 which killed all 115 onboard Korean Air Flight 858.

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On 24 December 1991, Kim Jong-il was named Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army.

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Kim Jong-il was named Chairman of the National Defence Commission on 9 April 1993, making him day-to-day commander of the armed forces.

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In one example explained by Hwang, although Kim Jong-il Il-sung required his ministers to be loyal to him, he nonetheless and frequently sought their advice during decision-making.

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In contrast, Kim Jong-il demanded absolute obedience and agreement from his ministers and party officials with no advice or compromise, and he viewed any slight deviation from his thinking as a sign of disloyalty.

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Kim Jong-il had been his father's designated successor as early as 1974, named commander-in-chief in 1991, and became Supreme Leader upon his father's death.

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Kim Jong-il officially took over his father's old post as General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea on 8 October 1997.

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Kim Jong-il commanded the armed forces, Choe Yong-rim headed the government and handled domestic affairs and Kim Jong-il Yong-nam handled foreign relations.

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Kim Jong-il had a "reputation for being almost comically incompetent in matters of economic management".

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An unsuccessful devaluation of the North Korean won in 2009, initiated or approved by Kim Jong-il personally, caused brief economic chaos and uncovered the vulnerability of the country's societal fabric in the face of crisis.

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In 1998, South Korean President Kim Jong-il Dae-jung implemented the "Sunshine Policy" to improve North-South relations and to allow South Korean companies to start projects in the North.

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Kim Jong-il announced plans to import and develop new technologies to develop North Korea's fledgling software industry.

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In 2002, Kim Jong-il's government admitted to having produced nuclear weapons since the 1994 agreement.

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Kim Jong-il was the focus of an elaborate personality cult inherited from his father and founder of the DPRK, Kim Jong-il Il-sung.

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Kim Jong-il was often the centre of attention throughout ordinary life in the DPRK.

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Kim Jong-il's government was accused of "crimes against humanity" for its alleged culpability in creating and prolonging the 1990s famine.

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Kim Jong-il claimed that the barometer for distinguishing whether a person can be deemed a member of North Korean society and hence entitled to rights 'lies not on the grounds of his social class but on the grounds of his ideology'.

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Shigemura moreover claimed a voiceprint analysis of Kim Jong-il speaking in 2004 did not match a known earlier recording.

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On 9 September 2008, various sources reported that after he did not show up that day for a military parade celebrating North Korea's 60th anniversary, United States intelligence agencies believed Kim Jong-il might be "gravely ill" after having suffered a stroke.

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An Associated Press report said analysts believed Kim Jong-il had been supporting moderates in the foreign ministry, while North Korea's powerful military was against so-called "Six-Party" negotiations with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States aimed towards ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons.

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Some United States officials noted that soon after rumours about Kim Jong-il's health were publicized a month before, North Korea had taken a "tougher line in nuclear negotiations".

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High-ranking North Korean official Kim Yong-nam said, "While we wanted to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the country with general secretary Kim Jong-Il, we celebrated on our own".

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Kim Jong-il was apparently conscious "but he needs some time to recuperate from the recent stroke, with some parts of his hands and feet paralyzed".

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On 19 December 2011, Roux confirmed that Kim Jong-il suffered a debilitating stroke in 2008 and was treated by himself and other French doctors at Pyongyang's Red Cross Hospital.

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On 5 November 2008, the North's Korean Central News Agency published 2 photos showing Kim Jong-il posing with dozens of Korean People's Army soldiers on a visit to military Unit 2200 and sub-unit of Unit 534.

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In November 2008, Japan's TBS TV network reported that Kim Jong-il had suffered a second stroke in October, which "affected the movement of his left arm and leg and his ability to speak".

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On 9 April 2009, Kim Jong-il was re-elected as chairman of the National Defence Commission and made an appearance at the Supreme People's Assembly.

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Kim Jong-il was unanimously re-elected and given a standing ovation.

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On 28 September 2010, Kim Jong-il was re-elected as General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea.

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Kim Jong-il reportedly visited the People's Republic of China in May 2010.

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In May 2010, Assistant U S Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell told South Korean officials that Kim had only three years to live, according to medical information that had been compiled.

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Kim Jong-il travelled to China again in August 2010, this time with his son, fueling speculation at the time that he was ready to hand over power to his son, Kim Jong-il Jong-un.

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Kim Jong-il returned to China again in May 2011, marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between China and the DPRK.

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Kim Jong-il was succeeded by his youngest son Kim Jong-un, who was hailed by the Korean Central News Agency as the "Great Successor".

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In February 2012, on what would have been his 71st birthday, Kim Jong-il was posthumously made Dae Wonsu, the nation's top military rank.

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Kim Jong-il had been named Wonsu in 1992 when North Korean founder Kim Il-sung was promoted to Dae Wonsu.

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Kim Jong-il had three known sons: Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-chul and Kim Jong-un.

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Kim Jong-il's two known daughters are Kim Sol-song and Kim Yo-jong.

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Kim Jong-il's was handpicked by his father and married to him in 1966.

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Kim Jong-il's first mistress, Song Hye-rim, was a star of North Korean films.

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Kim Jong-il's was already married to another man and with a child when they met.

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Kim Jong-il is reported to have forced her husband to divorce her.

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Kim Jong-il kept both the relationship and the child a secret until he ascended to power in 1994.

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Kim Jong-il's second mistress, Ko Yong-hui, was a Japanese-born ethnic Korean and a dancer.

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Kim Jong-il's "virtually act[ed] as North Korea's first lady" and frequently accompanied Kim on his visits to military bases and in meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries.

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Kim Jong-il's traveled with Kim on a secretive trip to China in January 2006, where she was received by Chinese officials as Kim's wife.

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Kim Jong-il's was married to Jang Sung-taek, who was executed in December 2013 in Pyongyang, after being charged with treason and corruption.

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Kim Jong-il's reported favourite movie franchises included James Bond, Friday the 13th, Rambo, Godzilla, Otoko wa Tsurai yo and Hong Kong action cinema, with Sean Connery and Elizabeth Taylor his favourite male and female actors.

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Kim Jong-il was said to have been a fan of Ealing comedies, inspired by their emphasis on team spirit and a mobilised proletariat.

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Former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ended her summit with Kim Jong-il by presenting him with a basketball signed by NBA legend Michael Jordan.

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Defectors claimed that Kim Jong-il had 17 different palaces and residences all over North Korea, including a private resort near Baekdu Mountain, a seaside lodge in the city of Wonsan, and Ryongsong Residence, a palace complex northeast of Pyongyang surrounded with multiple fence lines, bunkers and anti-aircraft batteries.

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