North Korea's infamous dictator Kim Jong-il is reportedly suffering from pancreatic cancer, which is usually aggressive and fatal, and has only about a 5% survival rate. This weekend he made a public appearance at a government event, looking noticeably frail and having lost considerable weight. It is possible that a son as young as 26 years old could lead the reclusive, hostile and secretive nation in the event of the death of the 68 year old Communist dictator.
And while famine, poverty and starvation pervade life in North Korea, Kim Jong-il lives a life that many movie stars or celebrities would only dream of. At one point, Kim was thought to have at least three mistresses besides a wife, although other reports link him as many as five women. There are also reported "happiness teams" assigned to "Dear Leader" to give him massages, erotic and otherwise.
Further, while he imposes a huge political censorship on his own people, he is a huge lover of film and owns a huge American and international film collection. Kim reportedly owns more than 20,000 videotapes or DVDS of movies. And while most in North Korea have very meager diets, Kim is something of an obsessive food gourmet and keeps cellars of fine imported French wines on hand. Some reports claim that he is a heavy drinker.
It turns out that Kim is a huge fan of Elizabeth Taylor. But films such as the JAMES BOND series, GODZILLA, RAMBO and FRIDAY THE 13th rate as his favorite films. And Kim is a huge basketball fan as well, and with the CIA well aware of this, former Secretary Of State Madeline Albright once gave the Kim an autographed Michael Jordan basketball as a gift to help to thaw out chilly relations between between the U.S. and North Korea.
While many Hollywood celebrities have to content themselves with owning just a single home or mansion, Kim reportedly owns at least 17 palaces. However, he has an irrational fear of flying in any aircraft, so he travels by train to any mansion or to any foreign visit outside the nation. Kim is not without more than a few unusual quirks.
If Kim Jong-il was not terrified of flying, and not a dictator of a strict Stalinist state, then you'd almost confuse his opulent lifestyle to any "jet-setter". Instead, he's just an unusual man who fell into more power than what he knows to do with it. In a great many ways, his unusual quirks make him something of the "Michael Jackson" of dictators. The unwholesome image of him lounging around nearly naked with a few beers is unfortunately all too much like some awful image of the bizarre recluse Howard Hughes.