THE SOUTH Korean Tourist Board has stumbled across a novel way of seducing tourists to visit their country. They have started sending out to the travel editors of national newspapers copies of the CV of the president of their republic, Mr Kim Dae-Jung.

Perhaps they think that we journalists will be mightily impressed by the fact that Kim Dae-Jung's first job, 48 years ago, was president of a local Korean newspaper, the Mokpo Daily News. In fact, I am highly impressed that anybody's first job could be president of anything, though I suspect that his presidential duties back then had more to do with delivering newspapers than commanding their production.

Since 1950, however, I am sorry to say that Kim Dae-Jung's career has consisted of a rather unexciting series of elections and re-elections to the National Assembly and my desire to visit Korea next year has not been affected in the slightest bit by reading it.

In short, I have to say that if presidential CVs are to play a role in boosting tourist figures, then the people of Korea may need to come up with somebody better at the next election - dare I say it, somebody like Kim Jong Il perhaps, the Dear Leader of neighbouring North Korea.

After all, Kim Jong Il may be presiding over the last great famine of the 20th century, but he must have a hell of an interesting CV. Which other world leader, for example, has been raised by a living god (his father, the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung)? Who else puts Stalin and Chairman Mao to shame? If any countries are worth visiting for the antics of their leaders, North Korea has to be one of them.

This is not to ignore other colourful claimants. I always had a soft spot for the last of the great tyrants, Deng Xiaoping, who remained China's top gun up to his death in 1996, despite the fact that senior Communists already regarded him as yesterday's man in the 1930s. China's new leader Jiang Zemin is relatively unenticing. I, for one, cannot imagine a man in square glasses ascending the Dragon Throne.

Elsewhere in the world, Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton have both been making laudable efforts to improve tourism to their respective countries. I also rather liked the former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, one of whose characteristically Australian claims to fame was that he held the Oxford University record as the fastest man to drink a yard of ale.

But it is the smaller countries whose leaders are potentially the greatest assets for the local tourist industry. How about Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandela, the men whose former persecutors now apply for jobs as their bodyguards? Or the Sultan of Brunei, the world's second richest man after Bill Gates, and probably the world's biggest spender? (He and his family are thought to spend more than a billion pounds a year.) Or Hugo Banzer, the man who led a brutal military dictatorship in Bolivia in the 1970s, before standing for election as president last year and being elected? Or Franjo Tudjman, who once served as a loyal general in the Yugoslav army, before becoming a virulent Croat nationalist? Or Colonel Gaddafi, the only world leader to attend international conferences in drag?

Lacking such startling leaders, the European Union looks as though it may be missing out altogether on an important source of tourism revenue. If the British Tourist Board wants us to do something about this problem, I suggest they set up their own political party. Suggestions for its leader to me on a postcard, please.

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