Recently, someone claimed while talking to me that North Korea said that Kim Jong-il never needed to poop.

Is there any evidence that this claim is true? I have found an unsourced Guardian article, and while I generally trust them, this seems very outlandish. CBS also says that "It is reported that Kim's official biography on the North Korean state web site, which has since been taken down" says this, but seems to come from another source and has no links to screenshots or archives of the site. Less seemingly trustworthy sources, such as Newser, have this unsourced.

Is there any screenshot or archive of this supposed page on North Korea's website, or claims by defectors that this lie was taught by the regime?

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    For those wondering, the Guardian article (December 2011) predates the 2014 movie The Interview, which talked about one leader not defecating (though this isn't mentioned in the Wikipedia article).
    – Golden Cuy
    Apr 23, 2019 at 3:41
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    FWIW, the English edition of Kim Jong-Il's official biography, allegedly dated 1998, is available on the DPRK's official web page and does as far as I can see not contain anything about his digestive actitivites. The biography may of course have been updated or the English edition differ from the Korean edition: korea-dpr.info/lib/103.pdf Apr 23, 2019 at 14:32
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    The British Queen is kinda similar, in that none of her staff ever mention her bathroom habits and instead refer to her doing other activities. So if you ask them directly they won't confirm she ever takes a dump, which became a running joke/meme in some parts of the British press (and Spiting Image if I recall). May 31, 2019 at 11:07
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo - Well, if they believed/claimed he didn't defecate, there'd be nothing to mention right? :D Sep 26, 2019 at 21:04
  • Those claims made by NK officials have gone down the memory hole. No archive.org or loc.gov in NK. Welcome to totalitarianism
    – geoO
    Nov 21, 2019 at 2:04

2 Answers 2


The 2011 Guardian article seems to be based very closely on an article on Matador Network, which itself is copied from an undated infographic, which lists its sources in the form of a bunch of unlabelled URLs in a horrid blue-on-blue font at the bottom. Example:

enter image description here

The infographic states:

His biography also says he doesn't defecate or urinate like other people.

I couldn't find an OCR accurate enough to extract the URLs so I had to type each one out manually. Eventually, by Googling instead of trying to visit the dead URLs, I figured out that the infographic originated from a 2008 blog post, which says:

Kim has schools teach people that his birth led to a spontaneous rainbow breakout… and that he doesn’t defecate

I'm glad that post is still up, because it brought me to the next source: Wikipedia.

Wikipedia, in 2008, cited The Aquariums of Pyongyang:

Defectors[who?]have been quoted as saying that North Korean schools deify both father and son, teaching that they do not urinate or defecate like mortal humans.[56][need quotation to verify]

As you can see from the other answer, The Aquariums of Pyongyang does not make the claim that "North Korean schools" ever taught such a thing or that it was ever written down anywhere. It's purely the word of an adult defector attempting to describe the mindset of "North Korean children" or more specifically him and his friends. As I said in the comments to that answer, it's entirely conceivable that some small children think about monarchs this way in other countries as well.

By a poorly worded insertion on Wikipedia (which was removed within months) and a game of online telephone made by list writers paraphrasing each other, this florid turn of phrase in The Aquariums of Pyongyang became an actual "official biography".

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    Very thorough answer! Thanks so much for settling this. Dec 24, 2019 at 5:50

Kang Chol-hwan, a North Korean defector, confirms this in his biography 'The Aquariums of Pyongyang'

The specific quote is

To my childish eyes and to those of all my friends, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il were perfect beings, untarnished by any base human function. I was convinced, as we all were, that neither of them urinated or defecated. Who could imagine such things of gods?

Chol-hwan Kang and Pierre Rigoulot (2005). The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, Basic Books, p. 3. ISBN 0-465-01104-7.

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    But that doesn't confirm the claim. That says that a child believed that they did not defecate, not that the government was officially saying so.
    – Brythan
    Apr 29, 2019 at 17:27
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    This doesn't address the propaganda question directly. Yet it suggests that the specific belief was widespread, and that's something that doesn't usually happen out of thin air. It's a belief that isn't held by pretty much anybody anywhere else about anybody else.
    – Hitch-22
    Apr 29, 2019 at 18:58
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    I disagree — it's plausible that a child would come up with this out of thin air. Presumably some British children believe the Queen doesn't defecate.
    – Avery
    May 4, 2019 at 0:59
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    @Brythan - I read that as a hyperbolic characterization of the hype and the level of belief - kind of like "walks on water," or "their poo doesn't stink" - not actually making that claim, generally, when those claims are made. Which does not refute what you say, but a different twist on it. May 30, 2019 at 20:38
  • I'm reminded of the poem by A.A. Milne: "Do you think the king knows all about me? Bound to dear, but it's time for tea, says Alice" Dec 21, 2019 at 10:50

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