February 16: The “Dear Leader”

KimFolks, I’ll be honest with you. I struggled a bit with the subject matter of today’s post. As I was looking at the historical events of February 16, one particular event kept calling to me. That said, I thought would it really be appropriate to mark the anniversary of the former Supreme Leader (i. e. dictator) of North Korea Kim Jong-Il’s birth on this day in 1941? After all, Kim was an absolute bastard: When he wasn’t actively killing his countrymen, he was indirectly killing them through famine all while he lived in opulence…and his son hasn’t done much better. With all that said, I’ve long been fascinated by the hermit kingdom of North Korea and the cult of personality associated with the so called Dear Leader, so let’s look at some of the propaganda myths that Kim and his regime invented and also some of the strange real life details of Kim’s life. To clear fact from fiction, all North Korean propaganda (i. e. bullshit) will be presented in italics.

According to Soviet records, Kim was actually born Yuri Irsenovich Kim on February 16. 1941 in a tiny village in Russia while his father, Kim Il-sung was commanding the the 1st Battalion of the Soviet 88th Brigade, a battalion made up of Chinese and Korean exiles. Official North Korean propaganda claims that Kim was born on February 16, 1942 in a secret military camp on Baekdu Mountain, a mountain that was viewed in ancient Korean mythology as the birthplace of humanity, during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The story continues to say that upon his birth a double rainbow appeared above the mountain and a new star appeared in the sky.

According to North Korea’s state run media, Kim was quite the accomplished individual: He was a fashion icon whose signature look of matching tunics and pants was imitated all over the world. In fact, he was considered to be the world’s best loved statesman and his birthday was celebrated worldwide. He was a culinary genius who invented a new sandwich for students and teachers called “double bread with meat”, better known in the rest of the world as a hamburger. Most impressively, he was an amazing golfer. The first time he ever golfed, he got five holes in one and shot 38 under par which is 25 shots better than the best round ever officially recorded.

Of course, Kim’s actions in the real world are even stranger. The following is all true: He was obsessed with basketball and often pirated satellite broadcasts to watch NBA games. Kim’s love of basketball was so well known that when then Secretary of State Madeline Albright made a diplomatic visit to North Korea, she brought a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan. Kim told Albright that perhaps next time Michael Jordan himself could come. Of course, there was no chance that His Airness would risk the possibility of not being able to leave North Korea because after all, Kim once kidnapped a South Korean director and his wife to make a Godzilla knock off. In that case the filmmaker and his wife only escaped after tricking Kim and his goons into letting them do some location filming in Austria. Finally, Kim was a major boozehound. In the 1990s, Hennessy confirmed that he was their biggest buyer, typically buying between $600,000 to $850,000 of cognac a year. By comparison, the average North Korean only makes $1000 a year.

Now, our cocktail today is a little bit on the crude side, but I thought it was fitting considering who we’re talking about today. Today’s drink is a One-Balled Dictator. This cocktail was created sometime during or just after World War II, and takes its name from an English marching song called “Hitler Has Only Got One Ball“, the subject matter of which you can probably guess. The key ingredients that give this drink its name are the semi-sweet German wine Liebfraumilch and a cinnamon ball placed at the bottom of the glass.

One-Balled Dictator

  • 5 ounces Liebfraumilch
  • 1 ounce Champagne
  • 1 cinnamon ball

Shake the wines together violently with ice and strain into a rocks glass with one cinnamon ball.

Tomorrow: The tale of an American naval officer and a Japanese girl.

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