Kim Jong-il’s Real Name was Yuri Irsenovich Kim

Kim Jong-Il was born Yuri Irsenovich Kim.  His official biography states that he was born on a sacred mountain (Baekdu Mountain, the legendary birthplace of Korea’s first kingdom) on February 16, 1942, where his father was serving in a secret military base, attempting to overthrow the Japanese.  Further, it states that his birth was marked by a double rainbow over the mountain, a new star appearing in the sky, and, before his birth, a swallow foretold his coming.

Besides the obvious parts of this that aren’t true, he also was not born on Baekdu Mountain in 1942, but rather was born in Vyatskoye, Khabaroskv in 1941.  Vyatskoye is a small hamlet in Russia.  Kim’s father, Kim Il-Sung, was actually a commander in the Soviet 88th Brigade there.  After WWII, Korea gained its independence from Japan and the family returned to Korea where his father began being groomed to rule by the Soviets, first being installed by Stalin as the head of the Provisional People’s Committee.  Shortly thereafter, he was made Prime Minister and eventually became President.

Other interesting Korean state propaganda surrounding Kim Jong-Il include:

  • He never pooped (perhaps that contributed to his declining health).
  • He wrote over 1,500 books in a three year time-span.
  • He wrote six full operas that are considered by experts to be the best six operas ever created.
  • The first time he played golf in 1994, he shot 11 hole-in-ones and was 38 under par (verified by all of his bodyguards, no less).  From there, he nearly always shot several hole-in-ones any time he golfed.
  • He began walking at just three weeks old and could fluently speak at just eight weeks old.
  • People the world over receive plastic surgery to try to look more like Kim Jong-Il.  His hair and clothing styles are also widely mimicked.
  • His birthday is highly celebrated throughout the world.
  • He had the ability to control the weather and it usually reflected his moods.
  • He invented hamburgers as a way to provide a new tasty food for his impoverished people.

Bonus Facts:

  • Kim Jong-Il’s father was also no slouch in the propaganda department, though he mostly stuck to things that were at least in the realm of plausible, unlike the non-pooping Jong-Il.  For instance, while at first his military career with the Soviets was no secret, Il-Sung later erased all references of his serving in the Red Army from North Korean historical records and rewrote certain parts of Korean history as far back as 1866 to bolster the aura around the Kim family, among other things. Also, to help boost anti-American sentiment, he frequently claimed that the United States was intentionally spreading diseases throughout North Korea.
  • Kim Il-Sung claimed to have composed the famous Korean opera “The Flower Girl”, which was later made into a novel and a movie.  Kim claimed he wrote it while in prison in 1929 in Jilin, China.  The story of the opera is centered around a very poor girl who sells flowers in a market to help support her sick mother and blind sister, now that their father is dead.  Her mother soon dies because her daughter can’t save up for the medicine in time and her sister is killed by their evil landlord who believes the blind girl is possessed by a demon.  He makes it look like it is an accident, though, by having her freeze to death.  He then locks up the flower girl who is only saved by her brother who is a member of the Revolutionary Army.  The brother then overthrows the landlord and frees his sister.  Gripping.
  • Kim Il-Sung was jailed at the age of 17 in China for belonging to the South Manchurian Communist Youth Association, which was a Marxist organization.  He was released after just a few months.  Three years before this, he founded the Down-With-Imperialism Union.
  • On the off chance he’d have to flee North Korea, Kim Jong-Il supposedly had nearly $4 billion stashed away in various banks throughout Europe.
  • Both Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il reportedly had a great fear of flying.  As such, they used a series of Presidential Trains to get around.  The trains, of which there are supposedly six, are heavily armored and extremely luxurious, though little else is known about them.  It was on one of these trains that Kim Jong-Il supposedly died.
  • “Propaganda City” in North Korea (Kijong-Dong, “Freedom Village”) is a city built near the border of North and South Korea and is meant to demonstrate how wonderful life is in North Korea and how beautiful and prosperous the towns are.  The only problem with this is that the city isn’t inhabited by anybody because the city isn’t designed to be functional, just look great.  For instance, the buildings are just hallow shells with nothing inside.  On the outside, though, the city includes everything you’d expect to see, including timed lights, street sweepers, etc.
  • While Kim Jong-Il publicly wouldn’t eat or drink anything not made in North Korea (as part of Juche ideals, “self-reliance”, he and his father pushed), he actually frequently had imported French wine and had his chef acquire delicacies from all over the world.
  • Being a huge movie fan, Jong-Il once had South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee kidnapped in Hong Kong and brought to North Korea.  When Choi’s ex-husband, famed South Korean director Shin Sang-ok, learned of this, he went to investigate in Hong Kong.  Once there, he was soon kidnapped as well and brought to North Korea.  The two were kept separate at first and were well treated overall, though Shin was put in prison after attempting to escape.  Eventually Kim Jong-Il invited them both to dinner and explained he wanted them to develop a major film industry for North Korea to help bolster the public perception of North Korea globally.  The two agreed to do so, as they were given no real choice.
  • While in North Korea, Shin directed a total of seven movies, including Pulgasari, which was more or less a knock-off of Godzilla.
  • Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok remarried while in North Korea at the “encouragement” of Kim Jong-Il.
  • The two managed to escape North Korea eight years after being kidnapped when Kim Jong-Il allowed them to attend a film festival in Austria.  While there, they fled to the U.S. Embassy and were granted political asylum.  The North Korean government denies Choi and Shin were ever held against their will, but the two produced secret recordings they had made, including conversations with Kim Jong-Il, that backed up their story.  They later returned to South Korea once they were sure that their government believed them that they hadn’t gone to North Korea willingly.
  • While in the U.S., Shin directed a few U.S. films under the name “Simon Sheen”, including 3 Ninjas Kick Back and 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain.
  • During the 1960s, Shin’s made over 300 films in South Korea.
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  • Is there any reason to keep both todayifoundout and Misconception Junction in my RSS feeder? It seems like these days its the same exact blog.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Chris: If you check out on Misconception Junction itself there is a post describing how it’s being closed down over the course of the next two weeks and all the stuff from there will be here on Today I Found Out and future “misconception” articles will be here. Basically, over the course of the next few months, I’ll be steadily improving TIFO to the point where I wouldn’t have had time to do anything with MJ ever, so decided to close it down and focus all my time and resources on making Today I Found Out better. So, I guess that’s a long way of answering your question and saying “no, you don’t need to keep both feeds”. Delete the MJ feed and if you’re subscribed via email, unsubscribe there as TIFO will now have everything. Sorry for the confusion. I thought I timed it such that people would first get the close-down message and then later be auto-directed to TIFO where MJ’s content will now be. But apparently not. 🙂

  • It seems most unlikely that Kim Jong-Il was born Yuri Irsenovich Kim because he is Korean, and like most Koreans the family name comes first. At best he could have been born Kim Yuri Irsenovich – but given the original obvious mistake even this is questionable.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @David: You are correct about the Korean naming system. However, if you don’t believe me about the rest, feel free to read about it in the sources, or listen, in the case of the NPR news bit. It is very true that Yuri Irsenovich Kim was his birth name. Keep in mind, given he was born in a Soviet town, his birth record would have had the Soviet naming system, which is the same as ours.

  • That explanation seems reasonable Daven, thanks for the clarification

  • Hey, when you are cursed to look like a miniature troll – you gotta make up some kinda clever back story to get your foot in the door with the ladies. Am I right?

  • Typo in Bonus Fact #6: “the buildings are just hallow shells ” should be “the buildings are just hollow shells “