1. 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.
2. According to his biography, he first picked up a golf club in 1994, at North Korea’s only golf course, and shot a 38-under par round that included no fewer than 11 holes in one. Satisfied with his performance, he reportedly immediately declared his retirement from the sport.
3. 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. In preparation for the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1989, Kim Jong Il had disabled residents removed from Pyongyang. The government also distributed pamphlets advertising a wonder drug that would increase the height of short people. Those who responded to the pamphlets were sent away to different uninhabited islands along with the disabled in an attempt to rid the next generation of their supposedly substandard genes.
5. 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. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Kijong-Dong is a propaganda city that was originally built in the 1950s by Kim Jong Il’s father right on the border, this was to display the North’s superiority to the South and also to encourage people to defect. It has no actual residents, but an extensive effort has been put forth to simulate a functioning city, including lights on set timers, and street sweepers to create an illusion of activity. The use of modern telescopes has revealed that the units lack window glass, and some buildings are just concrete shells that don’t even have interior rooms. The city also houses the world’s largest flagpole, complete with a 300lb. North Korean flag.
10. You can’t turn off the government radio installed in your home, only reduce the volume.
11. Idolatry in North Korea is such that it is second-nature for ordinary citizens to “rescue” portraits of Kim Il Sung before all else in the case of a house fire (there are even special bunkers for statues in case of war)
12. A six-day work week, and another day of enforced “volunteer” work, ensures that the average citizen has virtually no free time.