I saw these tales and shared them on my radio show. I promised that I would share the video, and tales, with them on my Examiner page. Here it is:
1. His official biography claimed his birth was foretold by a swallow and led to the appearance of a double rainbow along with the emergence of a new star in space. He went on to spread the myth among his subjects that his mood could control the weather.
2. You may not be aware of this, but Kim Jong-Il was the world’s greatest golfer… According to an official government handout marking his 62nd birthday, Kim celebrated by demolishing a par 72 course in just 34 strokes, managing a world record five holes-in-one on the way. To top it all, the superhuman round was apparently the first time he had actually played the sport.
3. In 2006, German giant rabbit breeder Karl Szmolinsky was contacted by Pyongyang, asking if they could buy 12 of the bumper bunnies. Having seen the massive rabbits in a newspaper, Kim planned to set up a breeding programme to boost meat production in the famine-hit country. Despite Szmolinsky warning the rabbits would make the situation worse – they only yield about 15 pounds of meat and have a huge appetite for carrots and potatoes – Kim insisted the animals should still be sent. Szmolinsky claims once the animals arrived Kim ate them himself as part of his birthday celebrations.
4. In 2004, a former chef for Kim revealed the North Korean leader employed staff to make sure the grains of rice served to him were absolutely uniform in size and colour.
5. In 2010 Kim Jong-Il banned the World Cup from being broadcast in North Korea unless the national team won. The communist country’s state-run TV stations were ordered not to broadcast live matches or games involving other nations, with only heavily edited highlights of North Korean victories permitted to be screened.
6. Hacked off by the lack of film-makers in his native land, in 1978 Kim arranged for two South Korean directors to be kidnapped from Hong Kong and brought to him. They tried to escape but eventually relented, making a string of movies for him including the cult Godzilla rip-off Pulgasari.
7. After being told by doctor’s to give up smoking in 2007, Kim quit then decided he needed to go one step further to protect his health and so outlawed fags for the rest of his compatriots with a nationwide ban.
8. According to Russian emissary Konstantin Pulikovsky, who travelled with Mr Kim by train across Eastern Europe, Kim had live lobsters air-lifted to the train every day which he ate with silver chopsticks. Where did all his food go? An official biography on the North Korean state website declared Kim Jong Il did not defecate. The biography has since been removed.
9. After suffering a back injury following a horse riding accident, Kim was prescribed painkillers. Fearful of becoming addicted, he ordered a half-dozen of his closest staff to receive the same injection under the logic that if he became dependent, he wouldn’t be the only one.
10. As well as being something of a foodie, Kim knew his booze. According to Hennessy, Kim was one of their single biggest customers, importing £350,000 worth of the cognac every year.
11. In 2004 he claimed to have invented the hamburger.
12. One of his unofficial titles was The Central Brain.
13. He once wrote six operas in two years.
14. He has collected more than 20,000 foreign films – with his favourites including Rambo and Friday 13th.
15. He was a keen roller-blader.
16. During a 2001 visit to Moscow by rail he had roast donkey flown to his train every day.
17. In the 1950s he built an entire city called Kijong-Dong that was designed only for propaganda. To this day it has no residents.
Also, a few tidbits from the Global Post:
1. Divine birth
Legend has it that a double rainbow and a glowing new star appeared in the heavens to herald the birth of Kim Jong Il, in 1942, on North Korea’s cherished Baekdu Mountain. Soviet records, however, indicate he was born in the Siberian village of Vyatskoye, in 1941. The people of North Korea, many of whom are reportedly battling famine, are apparently told that Kim’s birthday is celebrated throughout the world.
More from GlobalPost: Kim Jong Il dead; Asian anxiety reigns
2. Fear of flying
Perhaps one of the reasons the North Korean leader was so reclusive was his fear of flying, which he inherited from his father, Kim Il Sung. Kim rarely traveled abroad, and when he did it was by train – once taking a luxury rail car all the way to Moscow. In August GlobalPost reported that Kim visited Russia for talks with President Dmitry Medvedev, in an effort to shore up support for a transfer of power to his third son Kim Jong Un. Kim’s preference for rail travel is poignant because his death reportedly occurred during a train journey to a region outside of the capital, Pyongyang.
3. Wanted to breed giant rabbits
German media reported in 2007 that Kim hoped to solve the famine in his country by breeding giant rabbits. An east German farmer who bred rabbits the size of dogs was apparently asked by North Korea to help set up a big bunny farm to alleviate food shortages. To get things going, he sent a batch of 12 giant rabbits to North Korea, but was shocked to hear they were eaten at Kim’s birthday banquet that year.
4. Liked to eat roast donkey
While Kim was on his famous 2001 train trip to Moscow, a Russian envoy who traveled with him said roast donkey and fresh lobsters were flown to the train every day. Kim also reportedly ate the food with silver chopsticks, and washed it down with French wine and Champagne. Kim was also said to be one of the world’s biggest buyers of Hennessey cognac.
More from GlobalPost: Kim Jong Il dead; what’s next for North Korea?
5. High achiever
Official records reportedly show that Kim learned to walk at the age of three weeks, and was talking at eight weeks. While at Kim Il Sung University, he apparently wrote 1,500 books over a period of three years, along with six full operas. According to his official biography, all of his operas are “better than any in the history of music.” Then there’s his sporting prowess. In 1994, Pyongyang media reported that the first time Kim picked up a golf club, he shot a 38-under par round on North Korea’s only golf course, including 11 holes-in-one. Reports say each of his 17 bodyguards verified the record-breaking feat. He then decided to retire from the sport forever.
6. Built a city for propaganda
In the 1950s Kim built an entire city called Kijong-Dong, also known in North Korea as the Peace Village, which was designed only for propaganda. It is situated in the North’s half of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and to this day it has no residents. Western media, particularly in South Korea, refer to it as Propaganda Village.
7. Fashion icon
Standing at at 5-foot-3, Kim was a curious figure with his bouffant hairdo, platform shoes and collection of jumpsuits. And let’s not forget those sunglasses. But nevertheless, Rodong Sinmun, a communist party newspaper, reported that Kim Jong Il’s suits had become a global fashion phenomenon. His “fashion icon” status has also reportedly been transferred to son and successor, Kim Jong Un. Word is that the slick, trimmed haircut of Kim the younger, who may have had plastic surgery to look more like his father, is being mimicked by countless youths on the streets of Pyongyang.
More from GlobalPost: Kim Jong Il’s funeral planned as North Korea mourns
8. Film buff
Kim was said to be an avid film collector, amassing more than 20,000 video tapes and DVDs. His favourite flicks reportedly included Friday the 13th, Rambo, Godzilla, Hong Kong action fims, and anything starring Elizabeth Taylor. In 1978, he ordered the kidnapping of South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-hee so they could build a North Korean film industry. A decade later, they reportedly escaped while on a trip to Austria, and have since been granted refuge in the United States.
9. Child killer?
When Kim was aged five or six, his younger brother Shura Kim drowned in the family’s swimming pool. Unconfirmed Soviet reports said that Kim was responsible for the accident. His mother died in childbirth the following year.
10. Didn’t defecate
It is reported that Kim’s official biography on the North Korean state web site, which has since been taken down, claimed that Kim did not defecate. Enough said.
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