Regarded as the fiercest and the most dreaded world leader today, Kim Jong-un is the second son of Kim Jong-iI; North Korea’s second supreme leader and grandson of Kim ll-Sung who happens to be the founder of North Korea, and her first supreme leader. Kim Jong-un is the current supreme leader of North Korea since 2011 as well as the leader of the Workers Party of Korea since 2012. His grandfather Kim II-Sung led North Korea from its establishment in 1948 till his death in 1994, while his father Kim Jung II was the supreme leader from 1994 till his death in 2011.
Though there are misconceptions about his actual year of birth, he is believed to have been born either in 1982,1983 or 1984. While the North Korean state run media states that he was born on January 8 1982, the South Korean intelligence insists that he was actually born in 1983 but the US Treasury department records shows that Kim was born on 8 January 1984. Former basketball player Dennis Rodman confirmed after a meeting with Kim in September 2013 that 8 January was actually Kim’s birthday, and that he was actually 30 years old as at then.
It is believed that Kim’s official birthday was altered for a reason; because 1982 marked the 70th birthday of his grandfather, and his own father’s official 40th birthday. Most details about Kim and his family are surrounded with secrecy, and mostly based on speculations, but it is said that Kim and his siblings lived in Switzerland where he also attended English classes at a private international School in Gumligen under the names “Chol-Pak” or “Pak Chol” between 1993 and 1998.
He was known to be shy and a basketball fan. He was also said to be usually accompanied by an elder student believed to have been his bodyguard. However, there are also suggestions that the student believed to be Kim was actually his elder brother Kim Jong-Chul. Other reports claim that Kim actually attended the Liebefeld Steinholzli state school at Koniz Switzerland under the name “Pak Un” or “Un Pak” between 1998 and 2000 as the son of an employee of the North Korean embassy in Bern.
The school authorities have confirmed that a north Korean student by that name attended the school as at that time, according to the school, Pak Un first attended a special class meant for foreign language children before taking the regular classes of the 6th, 7th, 8th and part of the 9th year before abruptly leaving the school in the autumn of 2000.
According to those who knew him , he was well integrated into the school system, ambitious, and loved playing basketball but his attendance, and grades were said to have been poor. One of his close classmates then told reporters that he had once told him that he was the son of the leader of North Korea. His other classmates told reporters that he was quite shy, awkward with girls but indifferent with political issues. He was said to be very much into sports, and was fascinated by the NBA and Micheal Jordan.
One of his friends told reporters that he once spent hours meticulously drawing Micheal Jordan. Stories has it that he was obsessed with basketball and computer games, and was a fan of the Jackie Chan’s action movies.
In April 2012, a document emerged which suggested that Kim actually lived in Switzerland earlier than was initially thought. The report suggested that Kim actually lived in Switzerland as early as 1991 or 1992.
Analysts believe that Kim attended Kim II-Sung university which is a leading officers training school in Pyongyang between 2002 and 2007 and has two degrees; one in physics from Kim II Sung university, and another from Kim Il Sung military University as an army officer.
Kim’s life and that of his family in general has been one of the world’s best kept secrets. According to a report from Reuters released in February 2018, Kim and his father had used forged passports supposedly issued by Brazil, dated 26 February 1996 to get visas to various countries. Both passports were carrying a stamp saying “embassy of Brazil in Prague” Kim Jung Un’s passport was carrying the name “Joseph Pwag” and had the date of birth of 1st February 1983.
For many years, there was only one existing photograph of Kim outside North Korea, and the photograph was taken when he was 11 years old. Though occasionally supposed photographs of him occasionally popped up, they all turned out to be fake. This explains why it was easy for him to move and live in different countries without being identified.
It was until June 2010 when he was given a public office and officially introduced to the Korean people that more photographs of him taken while he was schooling in Switzerland were released to the public. The first official image of him as an adult was a group photo taken after a party conference where he was anointed as his father’s successor released on 30 September 2010
His eldest brother Kim Jong Nam was meant to be their father’s natural successor, but was reported to have fell out with his father in 2001 after he was caught attempting to enter Japan with a fake passport while trying to visits Japan’s Disneyland. According to Kenji Fujimoto, Kim Jung II’s former personal chief, Kim Jong-Un was favoured over his elder brother because their father considered his eldest son to be more of female character but saw Kim Jong-Un as more of his replica.
According for Fujimoto “Jong Un was the best to be handed over to, he was superb, physically gifted, a big drinker and never accepts defeat”
From 2009 it became obvious to foreign diplomats that Kim Jong-Un was going to succeed his father as the leader of the Korean workers’ Party, and hence become the de facto leader of North Korea. He was named “Yongmyong” which means “brilliant comrade”.
His father made their embassy staff to pledge loyalty to him, and there were claims that citizens were asked to sing a new loyalty song composed for him. By September of 2009 Jong II had secured the necessary support for his son, hence sealing the deal and smoothing the road for him to become the next supreme leader of North Korea. It should be recalled that his elder brother Jong Nam was killed in 2017 at an airport in Malaysia using a suspected chemical weapon by suspected Korean agents.
On September 27 2010, Jong-Un was made a “Daejan”, an equivalent of a four star general in the United States army despite not having previous military experience. This was followed by the release of his official portrait. All these pointed to the fact that he was getting set to take over. On October 10 2010, Kim Jong-Un was seen attending the Workers’ party 65th anniversary alongside his father; this was seen as a confirmation of him being the next leader of the party. From then, he was granted an unrestricted access to the press at big occasions, which indicated his importance in the running of the country.
In January 2011, the regime led by his father began what was considered “the purging” of all those who will be a stumbling block to Jong-Un’s impending take over. It was reported that about 200 proteges of Jang Song Thaek (Jong Un’s uncle in-law) and O Kuk-ryol (the vice chairman of the defense commission) were executed or detained to prevent them from becoming a rival to Kim Jong-Un.
Following the death of his father Kim Jong Il who died on 17th December 2011, Kim Jong Un was hailed as the “the great successor” by people loyal to him. The Korean Central News Agency KCNA even described him as ” a great person born of heaven”, and the ruling party in an editorial stated ” we vow with bleeding tears to call Kim Jong-Un our supreme leader and commander”. On December 2011 he was publicly declared the supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army and was formally appointed to the position on 30th December 2011.
Kim Jong-Un made his first public speech on 15th April 2012 during a military parade in commemoration of the Kim ll Sung’s cemetery. He made a speech titled “let us March forward dynamically towards final Victoria, holding the banner of Songun”. This later became basis for a hymn which was dedicated to him titled “onward towards the final victory”.
By July 2012, Kim Jong-un was promoted to the rank of “wonsu” which is an equivalent to “field Marshall” the highest active rank in the army. The state controlled media later announced that the only higher ranking to what Kim has is “Dae Wonsu_ which means “Grand Marshall or Generalissimo” a rank held only by Kim’s grandfather, and which was awarded to his father posthumously. This finally confirms Kim Jong-un as the top leader of Korea’s military, and came days after the Chief of General Staff To Yong-Ho was replaced by Hyon Yong Chol.
THE BIRTH OF NEW STYLE OF LEADERSHIP
Kim Jong-un started showing a deviation from the norm in leadership afterwards. In July 2012 for example, he attended the Moran-bong band concert, a concert that contains mostly of the Western pop culture which was loathed by his father and grandfather. Kim also used the opportunity to introduce his wife to the world, and the Korean people in general; a move that made the Korean populace feel a breath of fresh air was in sight. Again in 2013, Kim reinvented his grandfather’s New year’s address which was never done under his father’s regime; his father never made a televised address throughout his 17 years reign.
Apart from his new leadership style, Kim also rolled out a set of new economic measures tagged “the socialist corporate responsible management system. The measures which were put in place in 2013 brought an increase in autonomy of enterprises, thus granting them certain rights to engage in certain business activities autonomously. This system brought about a reported increase in output in major industries, especially agriculture. The Korean media describes the system as a flexible collectivist system.
Kim also introduced a policy known as “the May 30th measure”, which is an economic law aimed at controlling/regulating the guidance and management of the economy as well as improving the standard of living of the average Korean citizen. The main objective of these measures is to increase the availability of domestically manufactured goods in markets, introduce defense innovations into the civilian sector, and also boost international trade.
These policies have brought about a big boost in the construction industry across the nation, bringing about more creative minds and architectural design across Pyongyang as opposed to the concentration in the building of monuments by his father and grandfather. Kim Jong-un have built aquatic parks, amusement parks, dolphinarium, skating rinks and ski resorts thus bringing a new life and forms of relaxation to Korean citizens.
EXECUTIONS AND HUMAN RIGHT VIOLATIONS
Of course we cannot talk about Kim Jong-un without mentioning his cruelty, though due to the tough anti-media policies in North Korea it is difficult to verify most of these reports, for example it was reported in May 2016 that General Ri Yong-Gil has been executed only for it to turn out to be false, as the general was later found alive and well.
There has been various reports of executions, torture and abuses reportedly carried out by his regime, and we are going to mention some of them anyways.
His uncle Jang Song Thaek was arrested in December 2015 and was reported to have been executed for treachery, Jang was said to have been executed by firing squad. According to various unverifiable reports, Kim also executed the members of the Jang family including the children and grandchildren of all his close associates as well as Jang’s sister and her husband who was the then North Korean ambassador to Cuba as a way to completely erase all traces of Jang’s existence.
Jang’s nephew who was the north Korean ambassador to Malaysia was not also spared as he was executed along with his two sons. A deputy security minster from the ministry of people’s security Mr O Sang-Hong was also reported to have been executed in what was tagged a purge in 2014. According to Korean newspapers, the deputy minister was executed for his role in supporting Kim Jong-Un’s uncle.
Apart from his political executions, Kim has also been reported to have violated various human rights which includes sending people to labour camps, and his incessant testing of missiles and nuclear weapons. In June 2017, president Donald Trump described Kim as a “madman” after the death of an American student Ottor Warmbier who was imprisoned during his visit to north Korea.
HIS PERSONALITY AND ASSASSINATION ATTEMPTS
People who know him describe him as an exact image of his father, both in physique and personality.A Japanese chef who was his father’s personal cook described him as “a chip from the old block, and a spitting image of his father”. According to sources, he likes drinking, and parties hard just like his father. He is said to have the interest of Koreans at heart more than his father.
Kim is a basketball lover and a fan of Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago bulls in the NBA. No wonder the first American he met was a former basketball player Dennis Rodman. After his meeting with Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump describes him as very smart, and with a strong personality.
Well, just as it is normal with a dictator and a character like him, there has been assassination attempts on him. In 2012, a machine gun was discovered under a Juniper tree located near a route Jong-Un was supposed to visit. It was considered an assassination attempt. Also in May 2017, the government of North Korea accused the CIA and the South Korean Nations Intelligence Service (NIS) of hiring a Korean whom they described as “a Lumberjack who worked in Russia” to assassinate Kim using a biochemical weapon that included a nano-poison and a radioactive element; the effect they claimed would have been delayed but would have ultimately led to the death of their supreme leader.