If the internet, mobile communications and satellite TV were supposed to bring the world together Kim Jong Il showed that with the right type of censorship and careful brain-washing you can keep the people cocooned in a bizarre 1940's time capsule for an eternity.
Cut off from the rest of the world the temperamental tyrant managed to achieve demi-god status in his homeland despite totalitarian restrictions that subjugated the population to a monochrome hinterland where famine is the norm and dissenters are sent to concentration camps. If the outpourings of grief we are witnessing today are to be believed it seems a collective madness has taken over the country. Kim would give Derren Brown a run for his money in the illusionist stakes, such was his mysterious hold on the nation.
Intensely secretive he rarely made speeches, did not travel abroad and managed to avoid western intervention despite North Korea being on George Bush's "Axis of Evil". With numerous aggressions against neighbours Japan and threats to turn South Korean capital Seoul into " a sea of flames" it was only his nuclear arsenal that prevented the US delivering anything other then the occasional strongly worded rebuke (and you wonder why Iran are keen to get their hands on some nukes?)
You have to hand it to him. His powers of persuasion were phenomenal. Mourners have been weeping and wailing like their mothers had just died despite being treated like shit. Can you imagine such an outpouring of emotion if David Cameron kicked the bucket?
Of course, in the West his death has only achieved such a level of notoriety because in life he was such an oddball. Revolutionary Czech leader Vaclaz Havel died yesterday and barely gets a mention.
Such oddities include his convincing the Koreans that an undiscovered constellation appeared in the sky on the day of his birth, importing giant rabbits the size of dogs to alleviate food shortages, only eating rice cooked with wood from trees grown on the mountain he was born from and from his official state biography the ability to not need to take a dump (ever!)
Kim was also an avid film buff with a collection of more than 20,000 movies. He particularly liked Friday the 13th, Rambo and Godzilla. In 1978 he ordered the kidnapping of South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his actress wife Choi Eun-hee with the aim of building a North Korean film industry. They managed to escape the country and sought asylum in America.
Keen to develop a cult of personality his visage is seen adorning every building and is on every citizens lapel. Dictators are seldom fashion icons and Kim looked every bit the ludicrous despot with his collection of platform shoes, khaki jumpsuits, sunglasses and bouffant hairdo. In a certain light he looked like and wizened, oriental Liz Taylor.
One of the funniest stories I've heard about him is that at the opening of a new golf course in Pyongyang in 1994, he claimed he scored the lowest round of golf ever recorded carding a 38 under par including 11 holes-in-one. If that wasn't unbelievable enough it was his first time playing golf. Of course each of his 17 bodyguards verified the feat. The Guinness Book Of Records did not return his calls.
So Dear Leader, President for Life, Soul Brother Number One, The King of Sting and the Hardest Working Man in Show business. The man who held more titles then the New York Yankees will be sorely missed.