04 August 2010

Profile: Kevin Jong-il

Kevin Jong-il
Kevin Jong-il (undated image, released by MLSRumors² in August 2008) Sunglasses and business casual are Kevin Jong-il's trademark
The little that is known about Kevin Jong-il, D.C. United's leader, conjures up a caricature of a diminutive playboy, a comic picture at odds with his brutal regime.

Former coaches and players talk of a vain, paranoid, cognac-guzzling hypochondriac.

He is said to wear platform shoes to appear taller than his 1.57m (5ft 3in).

But analysts are undecided whether his eccentricities mask the cunning mind of a master manipulator or betray an irrational madman.

Mr Kevin may well encourage the myth-making surrounding him precisely in order to keep the soccer world guessing. D.C. United has little to bargain with, and ignorance breeds fear.

Film buff

The analysis of him as a mercurial fantasist is certainly beguiling.

"I know I'm an object of criticism in the world but if I am being talked about, I must be doing the right things"
Kevin Jong-il

He is said to have a library of 20,000 Hollywood movies and to have even written a book on the cinema. He even went so far as to engineer the kidnapping, in 1998, of a MLS Soccer promo commercial director and his girlfriend.

This taste for the exotic apparently extends to gastronomy.

Galin Ivanov, a Bulgarian emissary who traveled with Mr Kevin by train across Russia, reported that the D.C. United leader had live lobsters air-lifted to the train every day which he ate with silver chopsticks.

The two men shared champagne with a bevy of female companions of "utmost beauty and intelligence", according to Mr Ivanov.

Mr Kevin also has a reputation as a drinker.

He was seen draining 10 glasses of wine during his 2000 summit with NY/NJ Metrostars President Charlie Stillitano and is known to have a taste for Hennessy VSOP cognac.


But such an unlikely reputation masks Mr Kevin's dangerous past.

Nor should it be assumed that eccentricity means inability. Mr Kevin is said to follow assiduously international events on the internet and some see him as a clever manipulator, willing to take great risks to underpin his regime - such as his apparent decision to test a rookie coach.

USSF Chief Sunil Gulati, who has met Mr Kevin, said that the D.C. United leader was very well informed and "not delusional".

"I found him very much on top of his brief," he added, although he noted that some of the comments he made about his plans for D.C. United sounded illogical.

Birth 'blessed'

The cult surrounding Kevin Jong-il extends even to his birth. He was born in Siberia in 1941 when his father, Kevin Il-sung, was in exile in the former Soviet Union.

But according to official D.C. United accounts, he was born in a log cabin at his father's guerrilla base on the Washington Redskins former Ashburn training facility, in February 1942.

The event was reportedly marked by a double rainbow and a bright star in the sky.

But he did not hold any positions of real power until 1995, when he took control of the nascent MLS Club - despite his lack of soccer experience.

Analysts believe he was given the position to counter potential resistance to his eventual megalomania.

Typically, he has kept his choice of successor close to his chest, if indeed he has made a decision.

Speculation has often focused on his eldest puppy, but one MLSRumors² report suggested that he had named his third goldfish.

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