Kim Jong-il: Wikis


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This is a Korean name; the family name is Kim.
Kim Jong-il

Kim Jong-il in 2000

Assumed office 
8 July 1994
Preceded by Kim Il-sung

Assumed office 
9 April 1993
President Kim Yong-nam
Premier Hong Song-nam
Pak Pong-ju
Kim Yong-il
Preceded by Kim Il-sung

Assumed office 
24 December 1991
Preceded by Kim Il-sung

Assumed office 
8 October 1997
Preceded by Kim Il-sung

Born 16 February 1941 (1941-02-16) (age 69)
Vyatskoye, Khabarovsk Krai, Soviet Union
(Soviet records)

16 February 1942 (1942-02-16) (age 68)
Mt. Baekdu, Japanese Korea (North Korean records)
Nationality North Korea North Korean
Political party Workers' Party of Korea
Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl 김정일
Hancha 金正日
McCune–Reischauer Kim Chŏngil
Revised Romanization Gim Jeong(-)il

Kim Jong-il (also written as Kim Jong Il, Korean: 김정일, Hanja: 金正日; born 16 February 1941; official biographies state 16 February 1942[1]) is the Supreme Leader[2] of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (also known as North Korea). He is the Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, and General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (the ruling party since 1948). He succeeded his father Kim Il-sung, founder of North Korea, who died in 1994, and commands the fourth largest standing army in the world. North Korea officially refers to him as the "Dear Leader" and the "Great Leader".[3]




Soviet records show that Kim Jong-il was born in the village of Vyatskoye, near Khabarovsk, in 1941,[4] where his father, Kim Il-sung, commanded the 1st Battalion of the Soviet 88th Brigade, made up of Chinese and Korean exiles. Kim Jong-il's mother, Kim Jong-suk, was Kim Il-sung's first wife. During his youth in the Soviet Union, Kim Jong-il was known as Yuri Irsenovich Kim (Юрий Ирсенович Ким), taking his patronymic from his father's Russified name, Ir-sen.

In 1945, Kim was three or four years old (depending on his birth year) when World War II ended and Korea regained independence from Japan. His father returned to Pyongyang that September, and in late November Kim returned to Korea via a Soviet ship, landing at Sonbong (선봉군, also Unggi). The family moved into a former Japanese officer's mansion in Pyongyang, with a garden and pool. Kim Jong-il's brother, "Shura" Kim (the first Kim Jong-il, but known by his Russian nickname), drowned there in 1948. Unconfirmed reports suggest that 5 year old Kim Jong-il might have caused the accident.[5] In 1949, his mother died in childbirth.[6] Again unconfirmed reports suggest that his mother might have been shot and left to bleed to death.[7]

Kim Jong-il in 1944 at the age of three

Kim Jong-il's official biography[3] states that he was born in a secret military camp on Baekdu Mountain (백두산) in northern Korea on 16 February 1942.[8] Official biographers claim that his birth at Baekdu Mountain was foretold by a swallow, and heralded by the appearance of a double rainbow over the mountain and a new star in the heavens.


According to his official biography, Kim completed the course of general education between September 1950 and August 1960. He attended Primary School No. 4 and Middle School No. 1 (Namsan Higher Middle School) in Pyongyang.[9][10] This is contested by foreign academics, who believe he is more likely to have received his early education in the People's Republic of China as a precaution to ensure his safety during the Korean War.[11]

Throughout his schooling, Kim was involved in politics. He was active in the Children's Union[12] and the Democratic Youth League (DYL), taking part in study groups of Marxist political theory and other literature. In September 1957 he became vice-chairman of his middle school's DYL branch. He pursued a programme of anti-factionalism and attempted to encourage greater ideological education among his classmates. He organized academic competitions and seminars, as well as helping to arrange field trips.[citation needed]

During his youth Kim's interests included music, agriculture and automotive repair. At school he repaired trucks and electric motors in a practice workshop, and he often visited factories and farms with his classmates.[13]

Kim Jong-il began studying at Kim Il-sung University in September 1960, majoring in Marxist political economy. His minor subjects included philosophy and military science. While at university, he also undertook production training at Pyongyang Textile Machinery Factory, as a road-working apprentice and as a worker building TV broadcasting equipment.

Kim joined the Workers' Party of Korea in July 1961. He began accompanying his father in "tours of field guidance", which consisted of visits to factories, farms and workplaces around the country.

Kim Jong-il graduated from Kim Il-sung University in April 1964.[14]

Kim is also said to have received English language education at the University of Malta in the early 1970s, on his infrequent holidays in Malta as guest of Prime Minister Dom Mintoff.[15]

The elder Kim had meanwhile remarried and had another son, Kim Pyong-il (named after Kim Jong-il's drowned brother). Since 1988, Kim Pyong-il has served in a series of North Korean embassies in Europe and is currently the North Korean ambassador to Poland. Foreign commentators suspect that Kim Pyong-il was sent to these distant posts by his father in order to avoid a power struggle between his two sons.[16]

Early political career (1964–1979)

North Korea

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After graduating in 1964, Kim Jong-il began his ascension through the ranks of the ruling Korean Workers' Party (KWP). His entrance to politics was met by the tensions within the global communist movement caused by the Sino-Soviet split. Still following Marxism-Leninism as their core ideology, the KWP had launched an offensive against elements within the party deemed revisionist. Dubbed "anti-Party revisionists", senior cadre had spread feudal Confucian ideas, attempted to water down the party's revolutionary line and ignored orders from General Secretary Kim Il-sung.[17]

Shortly after his graduation, Kim was appointed instructor and section chief to the Party Central Committee. His first activities were undertaking parts of the WPK offensive. He agitated amongst officials to ensure party activities did not deviate from the ideological line set by Kim Il-sung, and worked to reveal anti-Party revisionists. He also put in place measures to ensure the Party's ideological system was rigidly enforced among the media, writers and artists.[18]

During the late 1960s, Kim wrote a number of discourses on economics. He rallied against moves to make material incentive the primary force behind economic development, and toured the country giving guidance on technical restructuring occurring within industry at the time.[19]

Between 1967–1969, Kim turned his attention to the military. He believed bureaucrats within the Korean People's Army (KPA) were oppressing the Army's political organizations and distorting state orders. Kim decided these elements posed a threat to the WPK's control of the military. At the Fourth Plenary Meeting of the Fourth Party Committee of the KPA, he exposed certain officers believed to be responsible, who were subsequently expelled.[20]

During his early years in the Party Central Committee, Kim also oversaw activities of the Propaganda and Agitation Department, in which he worked to revolutionize the Korean fine arts. Artists were encouraged to create works new in content and form, produced by new systems and methods, and abandoning old traditions in the Korean arts.

Kim's theory was that film combined a number of artistic forms, and therefore the development of Korean cinema would in turn develop other artistic spheres. This began with film adaptations for Kim Il-sung's works written during World War II, beginning with Five Guerrilla Brothers in 1967. In the early 1970s, operatic adaptations of Kim Il-sung's works began.[21]

Kim was appointed vice-director of the Party Central Committee (PCC) in September 1970, and became an elected member of the PCC in October 1972. By 1973 he was made secretary.[22]

During the early 1970s, Kim worked to eliminate bureaucracy and encourage political activity amongst the people by Party officials. This included a policy forcing bureaucrats to work among workers at the next subordinate level for 20 days per month.[23]

In February 1974, Kim Jong-il was elected to the Political Committee of the PCC. By this time he had acquired the nicknames of "dear leader" and "intelligent leader", according to his official biography.[24]

That same year, Kim launched the Three-revolution Team Movement. Described as "a new method of guiding the revolution", the movement introduced teams which travelled around the country providing political, scientific and technical training through short courses. The expertise gained was continually developed through mass meetings in which knowledge could be shared.

Kim also led the shock-brigade movement of scientists and technicians — a similar initiative for new scientific research.[25]

During the late 1970s, Kim was involved in economic planning, including several campaigns to rapidly develop certain sectors of the economy.[26] He worked on initiatives to build mass political movements within the military, including the Three Revolution Red Flag Movement, Red Flag Company Movement and the Red Flag Vanguard Company Movement.[27]

He was also active in efforts to build a campaign for the reunification of Korea. This included assisting in the formation of the International Liaison Committee for the Independent and Peaceful Reunification of Korea in 1977, attending talks between political parties and groups within the DPRK, and taking part in high-level negotiations between the DPRK and Republic of Korea.[28]

Presidium member and party secretary (1980–1994)

By the time of the Sixth Party Congress in October 1980, Kim Jong-il's control of the Party operation was complete. He was given senior posts in the Politburo, the Military Commission and the party Secretariat. When he was made a member of the Seventh Supreme People's Assembly in February 1982, international observers deemed him the heir apparent of North Korea.

At this time Kim assumed the title "Dear Leader" (친애한 지도자, chinaehan jidoja)[29] the government began building a personality cult around him patterned after that of his father, the "Great Leader". Kim Jong-il was regularly hailed by the media as the "fearless leader" and "the great successor to the revolutionary cause". He emerged as the most powerful figure behind his father in North Korea.

On 24 December 1991, Kim was also named supreme commander of the North Korean armed forces. Since the Army is the real foundation of power in North Korea, this was a vital step. Defense Minister Oh Jin-wu, one of Kim Il-sung's most loyal subordinates, engineered Kim Jong-il's acceptance by the Army as the next leader of North Korea, despite his lack of military service. The only other possible leadership candidate, Prime Minister Kim Il (no relation), was removed from his posts in 1976. In 1992, Kim Il-sung publicly stated that his son was in charge of all internal affairs in the Democratic People's Republic.

In 1992, radio broadcasts started referring to him as the "Dear Father", instead of the "Dear Leader", suggesting a promotion. His 50th birthday was the occasion for massive celebrations, exceeded only by those for the 80th birthday of Kim Il Sung himself on 15 April.

According to defector Hwang Jang-yop, the North Korean system became even more centralized and autocratic under Kim Jong-il than it had been under his father. Although Kim Il-sung required his ministers to be loyal to him, he nonetheless sought their advice in decision-making; Kim Jong-il demands absolute obedience and agreement, and views any deviation from his thinking as a sign of disloyalty. According to Hwang, Kim Jong-il personally directs even minor details of state affairs, such as the size of houses for party secretaries and the delivery of gifts to his subordinates.[30]

By the 1980s, North Korea began to experience severe economic stagnation. Kim Il-sung's policy of juche (self-reliance) cut the country off from almost all external trade, even with its traditional partners, the Soviet Union and China.

South Korea accused Kim of ordering the 1983 bombing in Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar), which killed 17 visiting South Korean officials, including four cabinet members, and another in 1987 which killed all 115 on board Korean Air Flight 858.[31] A North Korean agent, Kim Hyon Hui, confessed to planting a bomb in the case of the second, saying the operation was ordered by Kim Jong-il personally.[32]

In 1992, Kim Jong-il's voice was broadcast within North Korea for the only time. During a military parade for the KPA's 60th year anniversary in Pyongyang's then Central Square (Kim Il-sung Square at present),in which Kim Il-sung attended, he approached the microphone at the grandstand and simply said "Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean People's Army!" Everyone in the audience clapped and the parade participants at the square grounds (which included veteran soldiers and officers of the KPA) shouted "ten thousand years" three times after that.

Ruler of North Korea

Kim Il-sung died 8 July 1994, at age 82 of a heart attack. However, it took three years for Kim Jong-il to consolidate his power. He officially took the titles of General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the National Defense Commission on 8 October 1997. In 1998, his Defense Commission chairmanship was declared to be "the highest post of the state", so Kim may be regarded as North Korea's head of state from that date. Also in 1998, the Supreme People's Assembly wrote the president's post out of the constitution in memory of Kim Il-Sung, who was designated the country's "Eternal President." It can be argued, though, that he became the country's leader when he became leader of the Workers' Party; in most Communist countries the party leader is the most powerful person in the country.

Officially, Kim is part of a triumvirate heading the executive branch of the North Korean government along with Premier Kim Yong-il and parliament chairman Kim Yong-nam (no relations). Each nominally has powers equivalent to a third of a president's powers in most other presidential systems. Kim Jong-il is commander of the armed forces, Kim Yong-il heads the government and Kim Yong-nam handles foreign relations. In practice, however, Kim Jong-il exercises absolute control over the government and the country.

Although Kim is not required to stand for popular election to his key offices, he is unanimously elected to the Supreme People's Assembly every five years, representing a military constituency, due to his concurrent capacities as KPA Supreme Commander and Chairman of the DPRK NDC.

Economic policies

North Korea's state-controlled economy struggled throughout the 1990s, primarily due to the loss of strategic trade arrangements with the Soviet Union[33] and strained relations with China following China's normalization with South Korea in 1992.[34] In addition, North Korea experienced record-breaking floods (1995 and 1996) followed by several years of equally severe drought beginning in 1997.[35] This, compounded with only 18% arable land[36] and an inability to import the goods necessary to sustain industry,[37] led to an immense famine and left North Korea in economic shambles. Faced with a country in decay, Kim adopted a "Military-First" policy (선군정치, Sŏn'gun chŏngch'i) to strengthen the country and reinforce the regime.[38] On the national scale, this policy has produced a positive growth rate for the country since 1996, and the implementation of "landmark socialist-type market economic practices" in 2002 kept the North afloat despite a continued dependency on foreign aid for food.[39]

In the wake of the devastation of the 1990s, the government began formally approving some activity of small-scale bartering and trade. As observed by Daniel Sneider, associate director for research at the Stanford University Asia-Pacific Research Center, this flirtation with capitalism is "fairly limited, but — especially compared to the past — there are now remarkable markets that create the semblance of a free market system."[40] In 2002, Kim Jong-il declared that "money should be capable of measuring the worth of all commodities."[41] These gestures toward economic reform mirror similar actions taken by China's Deng Xiaoping in the late 1980s and early 90s. During a rare visit in 2006, Kim expressed admiration for China's rapid economic progress.[42]

Foreign relations

Kim Jong-il with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2000.

In 1998, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung implemented the "Sunshine policy" (햇볕 정책, Haetpyŏt chŏngch'aek) to improve North-South relations and to allow South Korean companies to start projects in the North. Kim Jong-il announced plans to import and develop new technologies to develop North Korea's fledgling software industry. As a result of the new policy, the Kaesong Industrial Park was constructed in 2003 just north of the de-militarized zone, with the planned participation of 250 South Korean companies, employing 100,000 North Koreans, by 2007.[43] However, by March 2007, the Park contained only 21 companies — employing 12,000 North Korean workers.[44]

In 1994, North Korea and the United States signed an Agreed Framework which was designed to freeze and eventually dismantle the North's nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid in producing two power-generating nuclear reactors.[45] In 2002, Kim Jong-il's government admitted to having produced nuclear weapons since the 1994 agreement. Kim's regime argued the secret production was necessary for security purposes — citing the presence of United States-owned nuclear weapons in South Korea and the new tensions with the U.S. under President George W. Bush.[46] On 9 October 2006, North Korea's Korean Central News Agency announced that it had successfully conducted an underground nuclear test.

2008 health and waning power rumors

In an August 2008 issue of the Japanese newsweekly Shukan Gendai, Waseda University professor Toshimitsu Shigemura, an authority on the Korean Peninsula,[47] claimed that Kim Jong-il died of diabetes in late 2003 and had been replaced in public appearances by one or more stand-ins previously employed to protect him from assassination attempts.[48] In a subsequent best-selling book, The True Character of Kim Jong-il, Shigemura cited apparently un-named people close to Kim's family along with Japanese and South Korean intelligence sources, claiming they confirmed Kim's diabetes took a turn for the worse early in 2000 and from then until his supposed death three and a half years later he was using a wheelchair. Shigemura moreover claimed a voiceprint analysis of Kim speaking in 2004 did not match a known earlier recording. It was also noted that Kim Jong-il did not appear in public for the Olympic torch ceremony in Pyongyang on 28 April 2008. The question had reportedly "baffled foreign intelligence agencies for years."[49]

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, US intelligence agencies believed Kim might be "gravely ill" after having suffered a stroke. He had last been seen in public a month earlier.[50][51] A former CIA official said earlier reports of a health crisis were likely to be accurate. North Korean media remained silent on the issue. An Associated Press report said analysts believed Kim 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. Some US officials noted that soon after rumours about Kim's health were publicized a month before, North Korea had taken a "tougher line in nuclear negotiations." In late August North Korea's official news agency reported the government would "consider soon a step to restore the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon to their original state as strongly requested by its relevant institutions." Analysts said this meant "the military may have taken the upper hand and that Kim might no longer be wielding absolute authority."[52]

By 10 September there were conflicting reports. Unidentified South Korean government officials said Kim had undergone surgery after suffering a minor stroke and had apparently "intended to attend the 9 September event in the afternoon but decided not to because of the aftermath of the surgery." 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." Song Il-Ho, North Korea's ambassador said, "We see such reports as not only worthless, but rather as a conspiracy plot." Seoul's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that "the South Korean embassy in Beijing had received an intelligence report that Kim collapsed on 22 August."[53] The New York Times reported Kim was "very ill and most likely suffered a stroke a few weeks ago, but U.S. intelligence authorities do not think his death is imminent."[54] The BBC noted that the North Korean government denied these reports, stating that Kim's health problems were "not serious enough to threaten his life,"[55][56] although they did confirm that he had suffered from a stroke on 15 August.[57]

Japan's Kyodo news agency reported on 14 September that "Kim collapsed on 14 August due to stroke or a cerebral hemorrhage, and that Beijing dispatched five military doctors at the request of Pyongyang. Kim will require a long period of rest and rehabilitation before he fully recovers and has complete command of his limbs again, as with typical stroke victims." Japan's Mainichi Shimbun said Kim occasionally lost consciousness since April.[58] Japan's Tokyo Shimbun on 15 September added that Kim is conscious "but he needs some time to recuperate from the recent stroke, with some parts of his hands and feet paralyzed. Chinese sources claim that stress brought about by the U.S. delay to remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, is one cause for the stroke. Chairman Kim is now staying at the Bongwha State Guest House on the outskirts of Pyongyang."[59]

On 19 October, North Korea reportedly ordered its diplomats to stay near their embassies to await “an important message”, according to Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun,[60] setting off renewed speculation about the health of the ailing leader.

By 29 October 2008, reports stated Kim suffered a serious setback and had been taken back to hospital.[61] The New York Times reported that Taro Aso, on 28 October 2008, stated in a parliamentary session that Kim had been hospitalized: "His condition is not so good. However, I don't think he is totally incapable of making decisions." Aso further said a French neurosurgeon was aboard a plane for Beijing, en route to North Korea. Further, Kim Sung-ho, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, told lawmakers in a closed parliamentary session in Seoul that "Kim appeared to be recovering quickly enough to start performing his daily duties."[62] The Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported "a serious problem" with Kim's health. Japan's Fuji Television Network reported that Kim's eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, traveled to Paris to hire a neurosurgeon for his father, and showed footage where the surgeon boarded flight CA121 bound for Pyongyang from Beijing on 24 October. The French weekly Le Point identified him as Francois-Xavier Roux, neurosurgery director of Paris' Sainte-Anne Hospital, but Roux himself stated he was in Beijing for several days and not North Korea.[63]

On 5 November 2008, the North's Korean Central News Agency published 2 photos showing Kim posing with dozens of Korean People's Army (KPA) soldiers on a visit to military Unit 2200 and sub-unit of Unit 534. Shown with his usual bouffant hairstyle, with his trademark sunglasses and a white winter parka, Kim stood in front of trees with autumn foliage and a red-and-white banner.[64][65][66][67][68][69] The Times of London has questioned the authenticity of at least one of these photos.[70]

In November 2008, Japan's TBS TV network reported that Kim had suffered a second stroke in October, which "affected the movement of his left arm and leg and also his ability to speak."[71][72] However, South Korea's intelligence agency rejected this report.[72]

In response to the rumors regarding Kim's health and supposed loss of power, in April 2009, North Korea released a video showing Kim visiting factories and other places around the country between November and December 2008.[73] In July 2009, it was reported that Kim may be suffering from pancreatic cancer.[74][75]


Kim's three sons and his son-in-law, along with O Kuk-ryol, an army general, have been noted as possible successors, but the North Korean government has been wholly silent on this matter.[76] South Korean media have suggested Kim is grooming his son Kim Jong-chul, while defectors and Western media have suggested the possibility of his youngest known son Kim Jong-un who is described to be "just like his father", has the exact same political views and his explosive tempers,[citation needed] but Kim Yong Hyun, a political expert at the Institute for North Korean Studies at Seoul's Dongguk University, has said, "Even the North Korean establishment would not advocate a continuation of the family dynasty at this point."[77] Kim's eldest son Kim Jong-nam was earlier believed to be the designated heir but he appears to have fallen out of favor after being arrested at Narita International Airport near Tokyo in 2001 while traveling on a forged passport.[78]

On 2 June 2009, it was reported that Kim Jong Il's youngest son, Jong Un, was to be North Korea's next leader.[79] Like his father and grandfather, he has also been given an official sobriquet, The Brilliant Comrade.[80] It has been reported that Kim Jong Il is expected to officially designate the son as his successor in 2012.[81] However, there are reports that if leadership passes to one of the sons, Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law, Chang Sung-taek, could attempt to take power from him.[81]

2009 re-election as DPRK leader

On 9 April 2009, Kim was re-elected as chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission,[82] and made an appearance at the Supreme People's Assembly. This was the first time Kim was seen in public since August 2008. He was unanimously re-elected and given a standing ovation.[83]

2009 imprisonment and pardoning of American journalists

In March 2009, the North Korean military detained two American journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who were working for the U.S. independent cable television network Current TV, after they allegedly crossed into North Korea from the People's Republic of China without a visa. The two reporters were found guilty of illegal entry and subsequently sentenced to twelve years of hard labor.[84] Reporters Without Borders characterized the trial and sentencing as a "sham trial",[85] and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton initially stated that the charges against the journalists were "baseless".[86]

On 4 August 2009, former U.S. President Bill Clinton met with Kim Jong-il during a "solely private mission to secure the release of [Euna Lee and Laura Ling]."[87] According to the KCNA, Clinton conveyed a verbal message to Kim from President Barack Obama,[88] a claim denied by the Obama administration.[87] Clinton and Kim had "an exhaustive conversation" that included "a wide-ranging exchange of views on the matters of common concern," KCNA reported.[87] KCNA also reported that the National Defence Commission of North Korea, of which the Dear Leader is the Chairman, hosted a dinner in honor of Clinton, but did not go into detail about what was discussed at the reception.[88] In the early morning hours (UTC+9) of 5 August, KCNA announced that Kim Jong-il had issued a pardon to Lee and Ling.[89]

Cult of personality

Kim Jong-il is the centre of an elaborate personality cult inherited from his father and founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-sung. Defectors have been quoted as saying that North Korean schools deify both father and son.[90] He is often the centre of attention throughout ordinary life in the DPRK. His birthday is one of the most important public holidays in the country. On his 60th birthday (based on his official date of birth), mass celebrations occurred throughout the country on the occasion of his Hwangap.[91] Many North Koreans believe that he has the "magical" ability to "control the weather" based on his mood.[90]

One point of view is that Kim Jong Il's cult of personality is solely out of respect for Kim Il-sung or out of fear of punishment for failure to pay homage.[92] Media and government sources from outside of North Korea generally support this view,[93][94] while North Korean government sources say that it is genuine hero worship.[95] The song No Motherland Without You, sung by the KPA State Merited Choir, was created especially for Kim in 1992 and is one of the most popular tunes in the country.

Personal life


Immediate family of Kim Jong-il. Clockwise from top; Sung Hae Rang, Kim Sul-song, Unidentified male, Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Il 1981

There is no official information available about Kim Jong-il's marital history, but he is believed to have been officially married once and to have had three mistresses.[96] He has five children, daughters Sul-Song and Il-Soon and sons Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-chul, and Kim Jong-un.[97]

Kim's first wife Kim Young Sook, was the daughter of a high-ranking military official. His father Kim Il Sung handpicked her to marry his son.[96] The two have been estranged for some years. Kim has a daughter from this marriage, Kim Sul-song (born 1974).[97]

Kim's first mistress, Song Hye-rim, was a star of North Korean films. She was married to another man when they met; Kim is reported to have forced her husband to divorce her. The relationship was not officially recognized, and after years of estrangement she is believed to have died in Moscow in the Central Clinical Hospital in 2002.[98] They had one son, Kim Jong-nam (born 1971) who is Kim Jong-il's eldest son.[99]

His second mistress, Ko Young-hee, was a Japanese-born ethnic Korean and a dancer. She had taken over the role of First Lady until her death — reportedly of cancer — in 2004. They had two sons, Kim Jong-chul, in 1981, and Kim Jong-un (also "Jong Woon" or "Jong Woong"), in 1984.[99]

Since Ko's death, Kim has been living with Kim Ok, his third mistress, who had served as his personal secretary since the 1980s. She "virtually acts as North Korea's first lady" and frequently accompanies Kim on his visits to military bases and in meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries. She traveled with Kim Jong Il on a secretive trip to China in January 2006, where she was received by Chinese officials as Kim's wife.[100]

Kim Jong-il is also reported to have a younger sister, Kim Kyong-Hui (김경희).[101]

Kim Hyŏng-jik
Kang Pan-sŏk
Kim Sŏng-ae
Kim Il-sung
Kim Jong-suk
Kim Young-sook
Song Hye-rim
Kim Jong-il
Ko Young-hee
Kim Ok
Kim Sul-song
Kim Jong-nam
Kim Jong-chul
Kim Jong-un


Like his father, Kim has a fear of flying, and has always traveled by private armored train for state visits to Russia and China. The BBC reported that Konstantin Pulikovsky, a Russian emissary who traveled with Kim across Russia by train, told reporters that Kim had live lobsters air-lifted to the train every day.[102]

Kim is said to be a huge film buff, owning a collection of more than 20,000 video tapes.[103] His reported favorites are the Friday the 13th, Rambo, James Bond, and the Godzilla series, as well as Hong Kong action cinema,[104] and any movie with Elizabeth Taylor.[105] He is the author of the book On the Art of the Cinema. In 1978, on Kim's orders, South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-hee were kidnapped in order to build a North Korean film industry.[106] In 2006 he was involved in the production of the Juche-based movie Diary of a Girl Student – depicting the life of a girl whose parents are scientists – with a KCNA news report stating that Kim "improved its script and guided its production".[107]

Kim reportedly also enjoys basketball. Former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ended her summit with Kim by presenting him with a basketball signed by NBA legend Michael Jordan.[108] Also an apparent golfer, North Korean state media reports that Kim routinely shoots three or four holes-in-one per round[109] (The odds of making a single hole-in-one in one round are around 1 in 5000).[110] His official biography also claims Kim has composed six operas and enjoys staging elaborate musicals.[111] Kim also refers to himself as an Internet expert.[112]

Defectors claim that Kim has 17 different palaces and residences, including a private resort near Baekdu Mountain, a seaside lodge in the city of Wonsan, and a palace complex northeast of Pyongyang surrounded with multiple fence lines, bunkers, and anti-aircraft batteries.[113]


According to the Sunday Telegraph, Kim has US$4 billion secreted in banks in Europe in case he ever needs to flee North Korea. The newspaper reported that most of the money was in banks in Luxembourg.[114]

Official Titles

  • Party Center of the WPK (1970's)
  • Vice-Chairman, WPK Central Committee (1972–80)
  • Dear Leader (Chinaehan Jidoja) (Late 1970s-1994)
  • Intelligent Leader (1973–84)
  • Member, Presidum of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK
  • Secretary of the Worker's Party of Korea (1980–94)
  • Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army (December 25, 1991-)
  • Marshal of the DPRK (1993-)
  • Chairman, National Defense Commission of North Korea (1993-)
  • Great Leader (Widehan Yongdoja) (July 1994-)
  • General Secretary, Workers Party of Korea (1997-)
  • Supreme Leader of the Republic (2009-)

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Kim Jong Il Brief History, Pyongyang, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1998, p.1.
  2. ^ "". 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  3. ^ a b "Biography of the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il". Retrieved 5 December 2008. 
  4. ^ "Profile: Kim Jong-Il" BBC News. Ed. Steve Herrmann. 9 October 2006. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  5. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  6. ^ "The Kims' North Korea", Asia Times, 4 June 2005.
  7. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  8. ^ Kim Jong Il - Short Biography. Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Press, 1998, p. 1.
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Further reading

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea
1993 – present
Succeeded by
Kim Jong-un
(Heir apparent)
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kim Il-sung
Vacant since 1994
General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea
1997 – present
Succeeded by
Kim Jong-un
(Heir apparent)
Chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission
1997 – present
Military offices
Preceded by
Kim Il-sung
Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army
1991 – present
Succeeded by
Kim Jong-un
(Heir apparent)


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Kim Jong-il (born February 16, 1941) is the highest official in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, holding the offices of Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, and General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea.


  • I am the object of criticism around the world. But I think that since I am being discussed, then I am on the right track.
    • [1] In "Orient Express" by Konstantin Pulikovsky
  • Well, Madame Choi, you must be surprised to see that I resemble the droppings of a midget.
  • It's all a lie. They're just pretending to praise me.
    • Remark to kidnapped South Korean director Shin Sang-ok (7 March 1983), regarding the people's devotion to him
  • Glory to the heroic soldiers of the People's Army!
    • Remarks at a military review in 1992, and the only occasion of Kim's voice being broadcast [3]
  • The Armistice Agreement [that ended fighting in the Korean War in 1953] has, in effect, become a blank piece of paper without any effect or significance.
  • Independence is an attribute of man, the social being; it should not be viewed as the development to perfection of a natural, biological attribute of living matter. This is, in essence, an evolutionary viewpoint. Of course, we do not deny evolutionism itself. Science has long established the fact that man is a product of ages of evolution. Man is a product of evolution, but not his independence. Independence is a social product. Independence is an attribute given to man by society, not nature; it is not a natural gift, but has been formed and developed socially and historically.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Kim Jong-il

Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea
"Highest Post" since 5 September 1998
Assumed office 
9 April 1993
President Kim Yong-nam
Premier Hong Song-nam
Pak Pong-ju
Kim Yong-il
Preceded by Kim Il-sung

Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army
Assumed office 
July 1994
Preceded by Kim Il-sung

General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea
Assumed office 
8 October 1997
Preceded by Kim Il-sung

Born 16 February 1941 (1941-02-16) (age 70)
Vyatskoye, Soviet Union (Soviet records)
16 February 1942 (1942-02-16) (age 69)
Mt. Baekdu, Japanese Korea (North Korean records)
Nationality North Korean
Political party Workers' Party of Korea
Religion Atheist

Kim Jong-il (김정일; 金正日) (born February 16, 1941) has been the leader of North Korea since his father's death in 1994. He is the son of Kim Il-Sŏng. Official North Korean propaganda says he was born on Mount Paektu (a holy mountain in Korea), but most historians think that he was actually born near Chabarowsk in the Soviet Union. Inside North Korea, it is the law that no one can try to replace him as leader of the country. He is sometimes referred to as the "Dear Leader", but this is not an official title. His official title is "Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea", "Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army" and "General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea". Many people in North Korea have been imprisoned or killed for speaking out against the Kim regime. Almost everyone in North Korea wears a small pin with a picture of Kim Jŏng-Il or Kim Il-Sŏng on it.

Personal Life

Kim is a Stalinist who also believes in the North Korean Communist philosophy of Juche (self-reliance). He is afraid to travel on aeroplanes and travels only on trains. He is famous known for his love of cinema and luxury goods, especially caviar and Hennessey brand cognac, even though North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world. Former United States Secretary of State Madeline Albright once gave Kim a present of a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan when he visited North Korea because Kim is a fan of the National Basketball Association and of Jordan.

Other websites

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Dictionary definitions from Wiktionary
Textbooks from Wikibooks
Quotations from Wikiquote
Source texts from Wikisource

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