Americans considered him a kook. But Kim Jong-il, a monster to Americans, was known as "The Dear Leader" to his subjects in North Koreans. A newscaster wept as she announced his sudden death on state-run TV.
And while Kim Jong-il won't be missed by Americans, there is a remarkable video posted by the North Korean News Agency of thousands of mourners wailing uncontrollably at the passing of their supreme leader. Although it may be all staged for the rest of the world.
North Korean propaganda offered ludicrous legends about Kim Jong-il. One claimed he was born on a sacred mountain top in a lightning storm.
In reality, he was vain like the rest of us and wore designer sunglasses. He stood just 5' 3" and used lifts in his shoes. He reportedly spent $700,000 a year on Hennessy cognac, making him the single largest consumer of it in the world.
He had a library of 20,000 movies. His favorites were James Bond films starring Sean Connery.
Kim Jong-il was ridiculed everywhere, from Saturday Night Live to the 2004 movie Team America.
But North Korea's nuclear weapons are no laughing matter, and Asian financial markets plunged. North Korea's new leader is no surprise—his 28-year-old son, Kim Jong-un.
The world now has a new "dear leader" to worry about, and mock.