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also spelled Kim Jong-Il and Kim Chong Il.

Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea or North Korea

Mr. Kim holds the following positions in the North Korean government:

Kim Jong Il was born in 1942 in Khabarovsk, Soviet Union. His mother and father, Kim Chong-suk and Kim Il Sung were Soviet-backed partisans battling the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. His father was installed as the leader of North Korea by the Soviets in 1948. Kim Jong Il attended the Namsan School in Pyongyang for high-ranking party officials and graduated from Kim Il Sung University with a degree in political economy in 1964. He may have visited East Germany and taken training as a pilot there. In the late 1960s and 1970s, Kim was involved in the propaganda, administration, and planning divisons of the KWP. He founded the Three Revolutions Red Flag Movement. Several of his projects publicized his father's military experience against the Japanese occupation.

At the Sixth Party Congress of the KWP in October 1980, Kim was elevated to positions of responsibility in the Party. He was elected First Secretary of the Central Committee and made a member of the Military Commission and the Presidium of Politbureau. He was formally designated his father's successor as head of state. In February 1982, Kim was elected a member of the 7th Supreme People's Assembly.

In 1991, Kim Jong Il became the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army. He was promoted to the rank of marshal in April 1992. He was elected chairman of the National Defense Council in 1993.

Kim Il Sung, the father of Kim Jong Il and the leader of North Korea, died in July 1994. Kim Jong Il succeeded him as head of state. He became General Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party. He was reelected as Chairman of the NDC in September 1998.

Kim is rumored to own the world's largest collection of Daffy Duck cartoons.

North Korea has engaged South Korea and the United States to a greater extent under Kim Jong Il than during his father's rule. This may be due to the severe famine conditions reported by observers, the reconciliation of South Korea with China and Russia or the failure of the Communist system in Russia and the reluctance of the Chinese government to continue supporting his regime. Recent years have seen several hopeful signs that the new regime may be softening its outlook towards the world. These breakthroughs include the highly publicized reunions of families separated for almost fifty years, the agreement made with the Clinton Administration to refrain from nuclear reactor research in exchange for shipments of heating oil, the discussion of reestablishing railroad lines and the permission for (small) observer groups to enter the country to assess the famine.

However, the Kim regime remains totalitarian and isolationist. The government maintains gulags where political prisoners and their families are worked to death. The military continues to develop ballistic missile technology, demonstrate their advances in ways that threaten their neighbors and sell advanced missile technology to rogue states like Iran. A shipment of ballistic missiles from North Korea on the way to Yemen was seized by Spanish and US warships patrolling the Persian Gulf. They were inspected and eventually delivered to Yemen, since the sale of missiles is not illegal. North Korea claims to have several nuclear warheads, and the technology to make more. President Bush included North Korea in the "Axis of Evil" with Iran and Iraq.

As of February 2003, North Korea has expelled UN observers, deactivated sensors, and removed sealed fuel rods from their nuclear facilities. North Korea has announced it is going to reactivate its reactors for electricity producing purposes, but it is widely suspected that the reactors will be producing material for additional nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong Il died suddenly on December 17, 2011. He was immediately succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un, the "Great Successor".

Sources: CIA factbook, DIA study available at http://www.fas.org/irp/dia/product/knfms95/1510-101_toc.html, Asia Society biographical sketch available at http://www.asiasource.org/society/kimjongil.cfm, http://www.msnbc.com/news/859191.asp?vts=011620031055

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