The Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il, died Saturday due to a myocardial infarction accompanied by heart failure, the state-run television announced Monday morning. The 69-year-old leader died on a train, which he greatly preferred over airplanes for travel. He was morbidly scared of flying and, though his death presumably had nothing to do with the train, one can't miss the irony of his death, from great mental and physical strain, while aboard a train heading to the outskirts of Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-il, known for his repressive governance, built a cult around his personality and eccentric choices after inheriting power in 1994 from his father and founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung.
1. Divine Birth - Kim Jong-il inherited a personality cult following from his father, the founder of Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and made elaborate efforts to circulate stories of his divinity. His official biography stated that his birth, in a secret military camp on Baekdu Mountain in Japan-occupied Korea on Feb. 16, 1942, was prophesied by a swallow and heralded by a double rainbow over the mountain and a new star in the sky. But according to Soviet records, he was born in the village of Vyatskoye, Soviet Union, in 1941.
2. Fear of Flying; Death on Train - Kim also inherited his fear of flying from his father and always travelled in armored private trains. His death, according to the North Korean television, occurred during a rail journey to a region outside North Korean capital Pyongyang.
3. Five-Year-Old Killer? - When Kim Jong-il was five years old, his younger brother Kim Shu-ra drowned in the family's swimming pool in a mansion in Pyongyang. According to unconfirmed Soviet reports, Jong-il caused the accident.
4. He Could Control Weather! - Kim spread the myth among citizens that he had magical power to control the weather depending on his mood.
5. Movie Buff - Kim owned a vast collection of more than 20,000 videotapes and DVDs and was particularly fond of movies starring Elizabeth Taylor. His other movie favorites included the Friday the 13th, Rambo and Godzilla movies and Hong Kong action cinema.
6. Kidnapped Director to Build Film Industry! - In a bizarre act stemming from his love for cinema, Kim ordered the kidnapping of South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-hee in 1978 to build the North Korean film industry.
7. Loved Roast Donkey - Even though Kim refused to consume foreign food and drinks publicly, his former chef, the Japaness Kenji Fujimoto, reported in 2004 being sent to foreign nations in search of delicacies for the leader. Kim developed a liking for fine wines from France, roasted donkey meat and freshly cooked lobsters. He reportedly imported $700,000 worth of Hennessy cognac per year.
8. Personality Disorders - A personality evaluation report of Kim Jong-il, compiled by Frederick L. Coolidge and Daniel L. Segal, suggested that the big six group of personality disorders -- sadistic, paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid and schizotypal -- shared by dictators Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein -- were dominant in the North Korean leader.
9. No Motherland Without You - The song, No Motherland Without You, proclaiming the dictator's wisdom and virtues, was written in 1992 upon his orders. The song containing the phrase, We cannot exist without you, Comrade Kim Jong-il! The motherland cannot exist without you! was frequently broadcast through radio and loudspeakers in Pyongyang.
10. Internet Expert - Kim considered himself an Internet expert, even though North Korean citizens were banned from using mobile phones or the Internet. I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired, he said during summit talks with South Korea's president in 2007.
Gayathri writes about geopolitics and business for International Business Times. She began her career at the Times of India as news coordinator, before moving on to IBTimes...