What did Kim Jong-il have in common with Moammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein? Aside from being bloodthirsty dictators who ruled with iron hands, all three of these men died at the age of 69.
Of course, Jong-il, the recently departed ‘supreme leader’ of Communist North Korea died (reportedly) from a massive heart attack, while the other two died by unnatural causes (Saddam was hanged in December 2006, while Gaddafi was murdered by his own countrymen recently in the aftermath of a horrid civil war).
Ed West, a columnist for the Daily Telegraph newspaper in Britain, commented: “After Colonel Gaddafi died earlier this year, I wondered if, with both [he] and Saddam Hussein dead at 69, that age was becoming the new ‘27’ for dictators.”
The ‘27” West referred to was the age at which many rock stars seem to die (including Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and most recently, Amy Winehouse).
West added: “Now they’ve been joined in the, er, 69 Club by Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s beloved leader (although he could have been 70. It depends on whether you believe, the Soviet Union or North Korea).”
Thus, is there something mystical about the number 69? I wondered if other infamous dictators also died at that age.
Adolph Hitler offed himself in his Berlin bunker at 56; Joseph Stalin went to hell at the advanced age of 75; Benito Mussolini was killed by his opponents at the age of 62; Chairman Mao Tse-Tung lived to 83; Idi Amin of Uganda perished at 78; Hafez Assad (the father of the current Syrian leader) died at 70; François ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier exited the earth at 64; Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo met his maker at the age of 67; and Robert Mugabe is already 87.
Thus, based on this sampling, there doesn’t appear to be any significance to ‘69’ as being the age when tyrants expire. Indeed, the most famous (former) dictator on earth now, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, is still around at the advanced age of 85.
Perhaps what is most interesting about this list is that a great many dictators seem to live long lives and die by natural causes (as indeed Kim Jing-il did). One would have probably expected more of them to die by the sword, and at an earlier age.
Still I think 69 years on this earth is plenty for anyone – especially murderous dictators.