December 24, 2011 |
In 1967, Kim Young-soon was a dancer in Pyongyang, North Korea, when her best friend visited with crazy news. "I'm going to live in the 5th House," announced Sung Hye Rim, then a noted North Korean actress, Kim recalled. She was referring to the residence of Kim Jong Il, the crown prince of the Hermit Kingdom, leader in waiting behind his powerful father, Kim Il Sung. To Kim Young-soon, the sudden romance seemed like some perverse fairy tale with little chance of a happy ending. Worse, the actress was already married.
February 20, 2011 |
Lee Young-guk is a struggling duck breeder in muddy work clothes, shepherding 10,000 feathered wards at his rural family-owned spread near the North Korean border. For the taciturn 50-year-old, his omnipresent baseball cap worn low over watchful eyes, common farm life is a distant second act to the years when he enjoyed an intimate view of a bizarre lifestyle that, as he puts it, "few mortals ever witness. " For 10 years, until 1988, Lee was a personal bodyguard for Kim Jong Il, working among the phalanx of trained killers who protected the future North Korean dictator, infamous for, among other things, his fetishes for handguns, imported caviar and foreign-made limousines.
October 5, 2008 |
North Korea's state news agency reported a public appearance by reclusive leader Kim Jong Il for the first time in nearly two months, an absence that prompted speculation he was seriously ill. Kim watched a university soccer game, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday. It did not mention his health or when he made the appearance. The 66-year-old leader had not been seen in public since mid-August. U.S.
January 6, 2010 |
He rarely leaves his secure confines in Pyongyang, but Asian news reports cite signs that reclusive North Korean strongman Kim Jong Il is preparing for a trip to Beijing. Kim, who is believed to have traveled to China four times since 2000, two of them in the month of January, could be ready to announce his nation's return to the six-party nuclear disarmament talks, some analysts say. North Korea's desperate economy, weakened by international sanctions after Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests last year, could force Kim back to the bargaining table in the hopes of extracting food and financial aid. Kim's previous trips abroad have signaled new business ventures or a renewed push for nuclear talks.
July 27, 1998 |
In a likely prelude to leader Kim Jong Il's rise to the president's office, North Koreans elected him and hundreds of others to the country's parliament. Less than an hour after voting ended, the country's official news agency announced Kim's election. Since the 1994 death of his father, Kim Il Sung, the 56-year-old son has been running the Communist country as supreme military commander and head of the ruling Workers' Party.
May 4, 2001 |
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il pledged to keep a moratorium on missile tests until 2003, but he said there would be no inter-Korean summit as long as the U.S. is reviewing its policy toward the North, a European delegation said Thursday. The promise to adhere to the moratorium was significant progress in a process that has stalled amid U.S.-North Korean tension. Earlier this year, North Korea threatened to end the moratorium on long-range missile tests.