"The only comfort to be had from the new batch of Korea books is provided by Breen's biography of Kim Jong Il, which details a hedonistic streak as wide as the DMZ." (Atlantic Monthly, September 2004)
"...a breezy and gossipy account of the life of the Dear Leader, who has been variously portrayed in the West..." (Sunday Telegraph, 22 February 2004)
"...he interestingly draws on some psychological profiles and a few accounts of those that have met him [Kim Jong Il]..." (Spectator, 28 February 2004)
"...immensely knowledgeable..." (The Herald, Glasgow, 6 March 2004)
From the Inside Flap
North Korea has been described by experts as the most dangerous country in the world. The only Asian state on US President George W. Bush's famous "Axis of Evil", it stands threateningly outside the community of nations.
For most of the world, communism is now ancient history. But in North Korea, it is still very much alive. Indeed, the communist personality cult that still holds the country together is arguably more fanatical than any other before it.
The unlikely object of worship for the country's 23 million people is Kim Jong-il, the pudgy and reclusive son of former dictator, Kim Il-sung. Little is known about Kim in the fraternity of international leaders, except for one rather disturbing fact: under his leadership, his country has become the first to withdraw from the international system of controls on nuclear weapons, which has put Kim Jong-il on a collision course with the United States.
What makes this especially remarkable and worrying is that this country with aspirations to become a nuclear power, has all but collapsed economically. Its people are so impoverished and malno urished that they are, on average, several inches shorter and many pounds lighter than people of the same age living across the demilitarized border in rival South Korea.
Kim Jong-il is the one fat man in the whole country.
How long can he continue in power? What stops his regime from collapsing politically? Will his reign end in nuclear warfare or will he go quietly? Or will he surprise us all and start true reconciliation between the two halves of the Korean peninsular? The answers, Michael Breen argues in this fascinating and colourful portrait, all lie with Kim Jong-il.
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