On Monday, the North Korean government announced the death of their supreme leader, Kim Jong-Il. Kim was the so-called Democratic People's Republic of Korea's dictator since 1994, and he was at the center of an elaborate personality cult that cemented his iron grip on power.
A traditional dictator who starved his population to pay for a million-man army and nuclear weapons program, Kim nevertheless had a sense of style and tastes that only an absolute leader could attain.
But none of this could come from a mere mortal. So the dictator shrouded his personality in legend and myth, with many North Koreans believing that Kim possessed magical powers. State propaganda perpetuated claims of Kim's talents as well, and many North Koreans grew up believing that their leader is a world-renowned fashion icon, the inventor of the hamburger, and their country's national soccer coach, among other towering achievements.
From fine spirits to operatic masterpieces, here's a closer look at five things you might not have known about North Korea's recently-deceased "Dear Leader":
Supernatural and unnatural powers
According to his official biography, Kim Jong-Il was born on Mount Paekdu, the highest point on the Korean peninsula, under a double rainbow. The moment of his birth was foretold by the flight of a swallow and the appearance of a bright, new star in the sky. Three weeks later, Kim was able to walk. And, only five weeks after that, he began to speak.
That same biography also explained that the Supreme Commander never made a bowel movement.
The North Korean leader was reportedly obsessed with Hennessy, a world-leading brand of Cognac. A single bottle of Hennessy retails for around $630 a bottle in North Korea - just $270 less than a typical North Korean family's annual average income of $900. Kim spent over $800,000 per year on the liquor, making him Hennessy's largest customer over the past 10 years.
In 1994, the very first time he played golf, Kim Jong-Il dominated the 7,700-yard Pyongyang Golf Course. He shot an unimaginable 38-under par, recording no worse than a birdie at the country's lone golf course. His round included 11 holes-in-one, and the feat was verified by 17 bodyguards who were present.
Kim Jong-Il owned over 20,000 movies and wrote books about filmmaking. In an effort to jump-start the North Korean film industry, he kidnapped two South Koreans—Shin Sang-ok, a director, and his wife Choi Eun-hee, a top actress in 1978. Jong-Il reportedly force-fed the two grass while making them shoot his cinematic debut: A "Godzilla" rip-off titled "Pulgasari." The dictator held the couple captive for eight years. He made a fatal mistake when he took the two to Austria to discuss the film's distribution, and they escaped to safety at the American embassy after a car-chase with North Korean bodyguards.
During an intensely creative two year span, Kim Jong-Il composed six operas. His 1974 book, On the Art of Opera: Talk to Creative Workers in the Field of Art and Literature, discusses how Kim and his father revived the genre by pioneering the combination of dance and song on stage. One of the dictator's plays, "Sea of Blood"—which chronicles the violence of the Japanese occupation before World War II—has been staged over 1,500 times, and Korea News Service has called it an "immortal classical masterpiece."