The Washington Post

Kim Jong-Il: A sporting life (with golf, bowling, soccer and basketball interests)

View Photo Gallery: Kim Jong Il’s sports feats strained credulity, but he reportedly was a fan of the NBA and Michael Jordan. (Vincent Yu | Associated Press)

Let us pause, for a moment, to remember the sporting life of Kim Jong-Il, the North Korean leader who died Saturday.

He excelled at golf and bowling — you might say he was a natural at both, if reports are to be believed.

In his very first golf game in 1994, Kim finished an 18-hole round of golf at 38-under par — over the 7,700-yard championship course at Pyongyang, according to state media. Kim was in a zone, recording five holes-in-one (some reports have the number as high as 11). Another legend had him bowling a perfect 300 in his first attempt at the sport, but that one may have strained the bonds of credulity to the breaking point.

His interest in soccer and basketball were better substantiated. He offered coaching advice during the 2010 World Cup, communicating with coach Kim Jong-Hun via invisible cellphone. “Jong Il is said to have developed the technology himself,” the coach told ESPN.

In the women’s World Cup this summer, the North Korea coach said his team lost to the United States because his players were struck by lightning during a practice session in North Korea.

Kim was a big basketball fan — and an even bigger Michael Jordan fan. Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state, presented him with a ball signed by Jordan and Kim is said to have owned a video library of nearly every game Jordan played.


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H / T David Larimer

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.


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