So little is known about North Korea's "Dear Leader" that biographies of him remain divided on common facts such as where and when he was born (official reports from the country say 1942) and who and how many times he married. It is unlikely that the death of Kim Jong Il, who died on Dec. 17, 2011, at age 69 from a reported heart attack, will reveal more. As Time magazine put it: "An easy way of summing up Kim's life in one sentence would be to throw in the words reportedly, allegedly and the occasional is said to. Kim's third and youngest son, Kim Jong-un, is rumored to have been chosen to succeed him.
Son of Kim Il-sung, who ruled the nation for close to 50 years, Kim Jong Il took over in 1994. Kim began studying at Kim Il-sung University in 1960, majoring in Marxist political economy, while his minor subjects included philosophy and military science. Under his leadership, the country has suffered from a collapsed economy, continuing food shortages and fractured relations with other countries. In 2002, then-President of the U.S. George W. Bush declared North Korea to be part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and Iraq. The nation is under close watch by the international community for its claims that it is carrying out nuclear weapons testing.
Time magazine published these statements on the leader:
Kim may have been married as many as three times and reportedly has three sons and one daughter.
He is said to wear nearly 5-inch platform shoes to increase his height, which is normally about 5'3".
A film aficionado, Kim reportedly has a collection of as many as 20,000 films.
A CIA profiler once told CNN that Kim, known to be a frequent drinker and a bit of a playboy, recruited "young girls of junior high school age to take part in 'Joy Brigades'" to help him and his officials relax.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has said of Kim with regards to the soundness of his thinking and decision making: "I found him very much on the top of his brief."
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