Kim Jong Il in pop culture: A video roundup

From Team America: World Police to 30 Rock, the late North Korean dictator has long proved ripe for parody

Margaret Cho plays Kim Jong Il on "30 Rock": The late despot has long been a favorite target for U.S. comics.
(Image credit: Ali Goldstein/NBC)

Enigmatic and eccentric North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who died Saturday, was not only a rumored cinephile but a favorite target for spoofs on TV and in films. Most famously, he was the evil puppet villain in 2004's irreverent Team America: World Police. But parodies of Kim Jong Il also popped up on sketch-comedy shows like Saturday Night Live and Mad TV, as well as on scripted series like 30 Rock. Here, a look at six of his most memorable pop culture appearances:

1. Team America: World Police

The film from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone was a "big-screen reflection on jingoism," says Tim Kenneally at The Wrap. The film, acted out by puppets, centered on a global police force named Team America that was tasked with thwarting a terrorist plot engineered by Kim Jong Il. The dictator was most brutally skewered in a ballad titled "I'm So Ronery." Sample lyric: "I'm the smartest most crever most physicarry fit / But nobody else seems to rearize it."

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2. 30 Rock

In a pivotal plotline last season on 30 Rock, Avery Jessup, the CNBC anchor wife (played by Elizabeth Banks) of Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin), was abducted by Kim Jong Il (played, hilariously, by comedian Margaret Cho) and married off to his son Kim Jong Un. At one point, Cho-as-Kim delivered the weather for the state news channel, proclaiming, "North Korea! Everything sunny all the time always!" Avery's abduction will play a large part in the upcoming season's plot, leading many to wonder, says Jon Bershad at Mediaite, "How is Kim Jong Il's death going to affect 30 Rock?"

3. Mad TV

In a segment on Fox's defunct late-night sketch comedy show, Kim Jong Il starred on his own talk show, The Kim Jong Il Show, part of North Korean TV's fictional TGIM (Thank God It's Mandatory) lineup. Played by cast member, Bobby Lee, says The Hollywood Reporter, Kim "would shoot audience members who didn't find him funny."

4. The Simpsons

In an episode in the 23rd season of The Simpsons, an ex-CIA agent voiced by Kiefer Sutherland revealed that he was once held in a North Korean prison, where he was forced to write a musical about Kim Jong Il titled "Being Short Is No Hinderance to Greatness." The episode then showed a flashback of the dreadful musical being staged while a gleeful Kim clapped along in the audience.

5. Saturday Night Live

Kim Jong Il has been parodied numerous times on Saturday Night Live. In one segment, the leader was portrayed by Horatio Sanz, and hijacked the episode to rail against America's "cowboy government," says Don Deane at The FW. The best part was "when Kim becomes uncharacteristically honest and admits that he's 'quite completely insane' and is currently taking a staggering array of mood-stabilizing drugs." Though no clip is available, Kim was also played quite memorably by Amy Poehler, as depicted in this GIF.

6. The Adoption Agency

It may just be a film short, says Stuart Heritage at the U.K.'s Guardian, but 2010's The Adoption Agency "shows how easily comedy was able to co-opt Kim Jong Il into material." Entourage star Rex Lee played the dictator, transforming him into "a mercurial, banana-eating, Criss Angel-hating figure."

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