Over the course of history, it can be determined that the most evil of dictators follow the same set of characteristics. Generally, these tyrants rule with an iron fist, deploying military power whenever they feel they should. They often funnel their state’s coffers into their own personal bank accounts, and it is common for dictators to force their people to treat them with the utmost reverence and respect. These traits are seen in rulers like Hitler, Stalin, Mugabe and Hussein. However, there is one dictator set apart from the rest--the North Korean former President Kim Jong Il. It is Il’s eccentricities, of which there are many, distinguish from the other members of Dictator’s Club.
Kim Jong Il has been characterized by many renowned psychologists as narcissistic, antisocial, sadistic, paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal, as per what a “normal” dictator can be diagnosed with. However, he has also been typified as pteromerhanophobic, or deathly afraid of flying. This leads to his first eccentricity: his insistence of leaving North Korea only by armored train. The train spans seven rail-cars with two electric diesel cars to pull it along. Its windows are bulletproof, and though it does not seem to be armored, the fuselage of the cars is made from heavy metal plating. Though armored trains are not generally considered useful, and most are not in use, Il employed his regularly, using it to travel to such destinations as Moscow, Beijing and Siberia. A Russian emissary who traveled by the train described it as very ornate, and also disclosed that Il had had live lobsters airlifted daily to the galley car. Another traveler aboard the train said Kim Jong Il had multiple sets of pure-silver chopsticks stored aboard with which he might eat his meals.
His lavish lifestyle aboard his rail-cars was in no way left behind in his home country, and, in fact, his standard of living was heightened in all of his palaces. There were seventeen of these such estates scattered throughout North Korea, located near land features like mountain ranges and oceans or near symbols of the regime, such as labor camps and a plutonium enrichment facility. In these citadels Il’s full collection of no less than twenty thousand movie titles were housed. His favorite movies included Rambo and Godzilla, and almost all of the films were spread by the Western media from which Il voraciously guarded his people. He was infatuated with Elizabeth Taylor and was not without a single one of her movies. In fact, he allegedly concocted a plot to kidnap her and bring her back to North Korea. His passion in film and performance, however, was not confined to his role as a viewer.
In 1978, long before Il inherited power from his father, the South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his wife Choi Eun-hee were kidnapped on Il’s orders. They were told to assist the North Korean media in building a film industry, and made a total of seven movies before their escape in 1986. Kim himself...