From the very start, Kim Jong Il’s life has been shrouded in mystery. According to official North Korean biographers, the Dear Leader was born on Mount Paektu under a double rainbow and the appearance of a new star in the heavens. Earlier this year I visited the bizarre and eerily beautiful volcano-lake which straddles the China-North Korean border. Since ancient times, Koreans consider the mountain sacred and the place of their ancestral origins.
However, Soviet records show that Kim Jong Il was actually born in the Siberian town of Khabarovsk, where his father spent WWII at a Soviet Red Army garrison. Historians say that his real name is not Kim Jong Il, but Yuri Irsenovich Kim. Will North Koreans know any more about his death than they do about his birth?