Mon, Mar 08, 2004 - Page 5 News List

N. Korean leader's titles number more than 1,200

AP , SEOUL

When it comes to inventing honorifics for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the communist propagandists know no bounds.

From mountain cliffs and village walls to school textbooks and television newscasts, Kim is hailed as the "Great Leader," "Heaven-sent Great General," "World-renowned Literary Man" and "Guardian of Our Planet."

Kim, who rules the globe's most isolated country in an ironclad personality cult, is commonly known as the "Dear Leader." But he has a total of 1,200 titles, according to Pyongyang's state radio.

Just to name a few, he is "The Illustrious General of All Illustrious Generals," "The Saint of All Saints" and "The Lodestar of the 21st Century."

He has earned other descriptions in the outside world as North Korea grapples with the US and its neighbors over its nuclear weapons program. One example is "tyrannical dictator," bestowed by U.S. Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, who said Kim keeps "hundreds of thousands of his people locked in prison camps, with millions more locked in abject poverty."

While thousands of North Koreans flee the country's desperate conditions every year, other citizens remain true believers in Kim -- thanks to brainwashing or ignorance. Most North Koreans have known only the rule of Kim and his father , the totalitarian patriarch and "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung, who took over the North from Japanese colonizers after World War II.

The younger Kim was once dismissed as an eccentric late-night carouser. But he proved a shrewd tactician who quickly solidified power after his father's 1994 death by using perks, nepotism and gulags to command loyalty.

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