• Gerry Tebben

    Five Facts

    Gerald Tebben goes behind the scenes and explores many offbeat trails in bringing to the forefront the long-lost information that makes coins so special in "Coin Lore."

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  • ?A dynasty of mad men: Kim Jong-Il

    Kim Jong-il was North Korea’s supreme leader from 1994 to his death in 2011. Dear Leader (Really, that’s what he was called) succeeded his father, Great Leader Kim Il-sung, and was father to Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong-un, the hermit kingdom’s current ruler.
    Language doesn’t have words bad enough to describe Kim Jong-Il, his dad and his chubby son. An estimated 1 million to 3 million North Koreans starved to death in a needless famine during the early years of Kim Jong-il’s reign.
    God, though, apparently thought he wasn’t so bad.  According to North Korean media, the heavens cried when Kim Jong-il met his maker. The BBC relayed the report Dec. 22, 2011. “Ice cracked on a famous lake ‘so loud, it seemed to shake the Heavens and the Earth’, and a mysterious glow was seen on a revered mountain top, KCNA said.”
    The report continued, “Following the storm's sudden end at dawn on Tuesday, a message carved in rock — ‘Mount Paektu, holy mountain of revolution. Kim Jong-il’ — glowed brightly, it said. It remained there until sunset.”
    Dear Leader appears on several coins from the 1990s and 2000s, mostly showing half and three quarter portraits of Mr. Misery greeting diplomats. The most entertaining is a 1992 50-won silver piece celebrating Kim Jong-il’s 50th birthday. The coin has the nation’s coat of arms on the obverse and a facing bust of Dear Leader on the reverse. 
    If you squint a bit while looking at the coin, the high-haired murderer looks just like his idol, Elvis Presley. Dear Leader, it turns out, was a huge Elvis fan, adopting the King’s jumpsuit, sunglasses and even his bouffant hairstyle.
    The coin can be difficult to locate. In July, a deep cameo Proof sold for $305 on eBay.
    Next: Leopold’s private hell