Kim Jong Il: Now It's His Turn

When Kim Il Sung's firstborn son came into the world on Feb. 16, 1942, he was given the Korean name Jong Il. He was also called Yura, which is Russian. After all, he was born in Khabarovsk, in the Soviet Far East. North Korean mythographers prefer to obscure that unpatriotic nativity, claiming that their Dear Leader first saw light on sacred Mount Paektu -- the site, according to legend, where Korean civilization sprang into existence 5,500 years ago. Such official obfuscations have ensured that Kim Jong Il remains mostly myth himself, even as he succeeds his father and becomes the leader...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!