Every once in a few months, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un threatens the world with nuclear war or shoots a rocket raising eyebrows amidst a volatile geopolitical environment. But he isn’t the first to use such tactics, and is only following the precedent set by his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea. The family has a cult-like following among its loyalists who even consider Kim Jong Un’s grandfather the eternal king, and almost worship him.
Propaganda spun like urban legends
The birth of King Jong Un’s father Kim Jong Il has also been surrounded by propaganda spun like myths, as he is said to have been born in 1942 on the Paektu Mountain, which is considered as a sacred origin of the Korean people. But official records have maintained that he was born in Siberia in 1941, which was then a part of the Soviet Union. The legend or propaganda also claims that signs of his birth included the appearance of a rainbow.
The tyrant who feared the skies
Although he was one of the major threats for a superpower such as the US in the post-cold war era, Kim Jong Il was himself terrified of flying. He rarely made foreign trips because of this, and once travelled all the way to Moscow in a luxury train. Before taking over the reins of his country from his father, Kim Jong Il used to run a film studio, and was even behind the abduction of a South Korean director Shin Sang-Ok, to make better films in North Korea.
Understood changing times
In the 1950s, Kim Jong Il also built an entire city called Kijong-Dong just for propaganda, but the city close to the border with South Korea never had any residents. After his father’s policies of isolating the country left North Korea in an economic and food crisis as the Soviet Union fell, Kim Jong Il tried to improve ties with other countries. Under his rule North Korea agreed to terms set by US to dismantle its own nuclear program, and also halted tests of the long-range missile in 1999.
Final years and legacy
But talks broke down in 2002, when US accused North Korea of enriching uranium, and US-North Korea ties remained strained till Kim Jong Il’s death on 17th Deccember 2011. Following his demise, Kim Jong Il’s son Kim Jong Un has also been at loggerheads with the US and its allies.
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