Star of His Own Show

Kim Jong Il has made an effort in recent years to appear less strange, but his outsize sense of drama is always on display

KIM JONG IL LOVES HIS movies. Not just the more than 15,000 he's collected on videotape. His movies. Movies of him. The North Korean ruler is trailed not by the tight video crews that sometimes accompany Western leaders but by a film team straight out of 1930s back-lot Hollywood, armed with spotlights and huge reel-to-reel Panaflex cameras so loud they sound like insects feeding.

When Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Pyongyang in 2000, it was the arrival of Kim's film crews that informed the U.S. delegation that he would make an appearance. Because Kim is obsessed with drama and...

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