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Kim Jong Il: The End of an Era

December 17, 2011. No one had a clue that Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il was dead.  Two days later, on the 19th, the North Korean government released a statement: Kim Jong Il, the “Dear Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” had died at the age of 70. Most people were taken aback, especially the Americans and Europeans. For all of their spying on the North Korean government, they had no idea about Kim’s death for forty-eight hours and found out with the rest of the world. With Kim’s death, the world now enters a phase of uncertainty as power shifts to an unknown leader, the youngest son of Il, Kim-Jong Un.

Kim was not a stellar ruler by any means. He presided over a country that, despite being a grain producer, was frequently plagued by famines. Kim wasn’t able to feed his own people but constantly pursued nuclear armament, causing flared tensions on the Korean peninsula with nuclear tests and acts of aggression, like the sinking of the South Korean warship, Cheonan, in 2010.

Kim also had his quirks. His irrational fear of flying limited him to travel solely by armored train. He was also an aspiring film producer, greatly inspired by the film Godzilla. Once, Kim even kidnapped a South Korean movie star and forced her to produce a number of communist-themed Godzilla-plot movies. When Kim showed his masterpieces to some Korean film critics, one of them urged him to release it, claiming Kim would be sure to win multiple Oscars. That critic, however, only wanted the film to be released because it would be the funniest thing in the world  to see because it was simply ridiculous. Kim’s efforts to set up the North Korean government’s official website were also not the most successful of ventures. Judge it for yourself: Kim Jong Il, if nothing else, was a man of many pursuits.

Written by Andy Li’13. Photo courtesy of


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