BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Correspondent  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Correspondent Monday, 21 July, 2003, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Inside the mind of Kim Jong-il
Father and son: Kim Il-sung & Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il (r) was not expected to succeed his father
Film-maker, artist, playboy, ruthless leader - who is the real Kim Jong-il? BBC Two's Correspondent programme spoke to those once close to him to find out.

North Korean President Kim Jong-il, widely regarded as the world's most dangerous man, was dubbed "Dr Evil" by Newsweek magazine in January this year.

The reference was to a fictitious Hollywood film character who plots to destroy the planet, in the style of a James Bond villain.

When it comes to the orchestration of terror, Kim Jong-il is a natural born genius

Former Central Committee worker Kim Duk Hong

As well as being on the US "Axis of Evil" shortlist, Kim Jong-il's regime may have nuclear material that it is willing to sell.

Correspondent tracked down some of the people who have met Kim Jong-il, to uncover how the lazy student, frustrated artist and dandy became one of the world's most powerful leaders.

Kidnapping

At an early age it was not apparent that Kim Jong-il was destined to succeed his father, Kim Il-sung, the founder of Communist North Korea.

"He wasn't taken seriously - he was regarded as the black sheep of the family. No-one thought that Kim Jong-il would become leader," said former Central Committee worker Kim Duk Hong.

It came as a surprise when Kim Il-sung named his son as his chosen heir in 1974, naming him "Dear Leader" - although it would be 20 years before Kim came to power after his father's death.

Actress Choe Eun Hee
Kim kidnapped South Korea's most famous actress
Kim was desperate to improve his image and, four years after coming to power, even kidnapped one of South Korea's most famous film stars, Choe Eun Hee, and her film producer-husband Shin Sang Ok.

They were forced to make a series of propaganda films for Kim, before escaping after nine years of imprisonment.

The films also fuelled Kim's passion for the arts: he produced operas and wrote books on the theory of art.

"Kim Jong-il was like any ordinary young man. He liked action movies, sex movies, horror movies. He liked all the women that most men like, he liked James Bond," said Shin Sang Ok.

Propaganda campaign

"He thought he could do anything he wanted. He wasn't humble or shy, but rather always boasting and showing off," said Choe Eun Hee.

Kim soon became revered by his people, thanks to a policy of repression backed by the army and a concerted propaganda campaign that included films telling the story that he was born on the most sacred mountain in North Korea.

North Korea does not regard terrorism as a crime - it's an essential tool for completing the revolution

Former North Korean spy An Myung Jin

"When Kim Jong-il came to power he became a god like his father. Father and son were the life-givers, the true parents of all Koreans," said Kim Duk Hong.

"We all believed that Kim Jong-il was a genius from heaven. We had to recite this hundreds and thousands of times," said Lee Young Guk, a former bodyguard.

"He insisted we must be ready to die for him. We were not to take orders from anyone else. People say Saddam's palaces are grand, but they're nothing.

"At Kim Jong-il's villa there are many ladies - they call them his doctor, his nurse, his secretary, but basically they're just his playthings."

Former Central Committee worker Kim Duk Hong
Kim Duk Hong says nuclear weapons are key to Kim Jong-il's survival
When he came to power on the death of his father in 1994, Kim Jong-il ruthlessly set about establishing his own authority.

"We were encouraging South Koreans to defect to the North, kidnapping generals, members of parliament or students, blowing up targets," said former North Korean spy An Myung Jin.

"We were a tool for making all Korea communist. North Korea does not regard terrorism as a crime - it's an essential tool for completing the revolution."

'Terror genius'

"When it comes to the orchestration of terror, Kim Jong-il is a natural born genius," said Kim Duk Hong.

But the North Korean leader relies on the support of the army and secretly re-started the country's nuclear programme in order to keep them happy, according to Kim Duk Hong.

"If Kim Jong-il gives up nuclear weapons, then he will lose the support of the people in his inner circle of power. Then it's only a matter of time before his leadership collapses," he said.

"The nuclear programme is his survival strategy. He'll never give it up, if he says he will and invites the inspectors to watch him destroy his facilities, he will be lying."


Correspondent: The Real Dr Evil was broadcast on BBC Two on Sunday, 20 July, 2003 at 1915 BST.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Former bodyguard Lee Young Guk
"From the minute you wake up he makes you hit stuff continuously"
Actress Choe Eun Hee
"My heart sank"
Former Central Committe Worker Kim Puk Hong
"If Kim Jong-il gives up nuclear weapons then he will crumble"
See also:

19 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
26 Jul 98 | Asia-Pacific
24 May 03 | Country profiles
27 Jun 03 | Asia-Pacific
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Correspondent stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Correspondent stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes