Kim Jong-ill succeeded his father as Supreme Leader of North Korea on July 8, 1994. He has been in power for over 16 years. Although small in stature, Kim rules his people with an iron fist. North Korea is a tightly-controlled totalitarian state and there is absolutely no dissent in this secretive country. Kim’s son, Kim Jong-un, has been promoted to a senior post in the ruling Worker’s Party and is considered to be the heir apparent.
Kim Jong-il loathes his short stature and always wears high platform shoes in public. His exact height is a closely guarded secret, but it is estimated to be between 5’3’’ and 5’6’’ (155 – 165 cm). Pyongyang rarely releases photos that show his elevator shoes. In 2005, however, the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper published a picture of a smiling Kim wearing 10-12 cm. platforms. The photograph was taken during a 2002 meeting with then-Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Back in 1994, North Korea’s first golf course was opened in Pynogyang and Kim decided to play it. The state-run North Korean media announced that Kim shot an astounding 38 under par on the regulation 18-hole course – including 5 holes in one. It was his first time playing the sport. What amazing athletic prowess this man has! Is there anything he can’t he do? Well, the North Korean press has not yet reported that Kim has walked on water . . . yet.
In honour of Kim’s 70th (sorry, I mean 69th) birthday, there will be a week of song and celebration in North Korea, including ice skating and musical shows. The Dear Leader even has a flower named in his honour, a hybrid begonia called Kimjongilla. Exhibitions of his floral namesake are on display. Although the states media reports that Pyongyang’s streets are festooned with lanterns and goodwill messages, a defector group claims that birthday handouts were cut back as the regime continues to have difficulty feeding its people.
Kim’s eccentricities, his enormous ego, and his extreme pomposity, would be quite amusing - except for one salient fact. The man is a brutal dictator and North Koreans are suffering immensely. His nation is poverty-stricken and has experienced terrible famine. Nevertheless, North Korea remains one of the most militarized countries in the world today. Its government spends billions of dollars on the Korean People’s Army.
This brings us to another Kim story. In 2006, the Dear Leader discovered that there was a man in Germany who bred giant rabbits the size of dogs. He thought that these enormous rabbits would provide a solution to North Korea's widespread hunger problem. The German man, Karl Szmolinsky of Berlin, informed Kim that that was not a very good idea. The rabbits would devour more carrots and other vegetables than they would yield in meat.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Kim Jong-il died on December 17, 2011 at the age of 70.
I’m pleased that the Toronto Blue Jays are delaying arbitration with slugger Jose Bautista. It is imperative for the team to sign Bautista to a multi-year deal. He has the ability to be the team leader. He is articulate and very helpful to the Hispanic players on the club. I’m waiting to see if GM Alex Anthopoulos can obtain a decent third baseman so that Bautista can play in the outfield where he belongs.
It’s about time that someone in hockey spoke out strongly against the brutality of the NHL game. Bravo to Mario Lemieux. Hockey should not be allowed to degenerate into a roller derby on ice. After enjoying the great games at the Vancouver Winter Olympics last year and the World Junior Hockey Championship this Christmas season, I find it increasingly difficult to watch the diluted, fight-infested NHL game.