The North Korean dictatorship has a decades-long tradition of supernatural legends surrounding its leaders. Here are a few notable “facts” (according to the personality cult/government propaganda machine) about the previous ruler, Kim Jong-il. Note that all these things were recorded during Kim Jong-il’s life or immediately after his death, by people who had met him or at least could have met him. We have these stories about him in their original form, unchanged by later revision. They refer to real locations and other real people. Decide for yourself: are those good reasons to believe these claims about the man?
[According] to official North Korean accounts, he was born in a log cabin at his father’s guerrilla base on North Korea’s highest mountain, Mt Paektu, in February 1942. The event was reportedly marked by a double rainbow and a bright star in the sky. [BBC]
[North Korean] reports claim his birth were heralded by a swallow and caused winter to change to spring, a star to illuminate the sky and rainbows to spontaneously appear. [Herald Sun]
Other records indicate that Kim Jong-il was born in Siberia in 1941, not on Mount Paektu in the numerologically-convenient 1942. But being born on the tallest mountain on the Korean peninsula, at a military camp where his father was fighting the Japanese, is a much more exciting story than being born in a small Soviet fishing village where his father was serving in the Red Army. This is to say nothing of the omens, miraculous weather-changing, and signs in the sky.
The first time he bowled, Kim Jong-il scored a perfect 300, according to North Korean media. Similarly, in his first-ever round of golf, he had five hole-in one holes for 38-under par round. [Christian Science Monitor]
Note also that Kim’s seventeen bodyguards were witnesses to the game and all vouched for the truth of that golf score. Aren’t you convinced?
The account of his death was just as mythic. His obituary in state media called him the “illustrious commander born of heaven,” and on Wednesday, KCNA said a Manchurian crane spotted in the city of Hamhung circled a statue of Kim Il Sung for hours before dropping its head and taking off toward Pyongyang. The crane is a traditional Korean symbol of longevity. [Christian Science Monitor]
Huge crowds turned out apparently to mourn the dictator’s death, despite the indifferent brutality of the regime. Must’ve been a pretty … incredible guy, huh?