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Kim Jong Eun, Leader of North Korea

Updated on May 12, 2012
Kim Jong Eun
Kim Jong Eun | Source

The Youngest Head of State

Since ascending to the leadership of North Korea following his father's death last year, Kim Jong Eun has distinguished himself in one way: he is the youngest leader in the world today. Although the secrecy which surrounds North Korea make it difficult to determine a specific date of birth for him (despite some sources naming an exact date), he is believed to have been born in 1983 or 1984.

Despite living and studying in Switzerland for some time, very little is known about his life. Perhaps this is because he was only considered for succession relatively late in his father's life. Much more is known about two of his older brothers, who were eventually bypassed. So, perhaps he wasn't seen as an important target of intelligence gathering.

At any rate, his older brothers were determined to be unfit for leadership, one for being too feminine and the other for generally being an embarrassment-- he was famously caught trying to enter Japan on a fake passport in the hopes of visiting Disneyland. Of course, Kim Jong Eun is a near-exact physical replica of his father, so perhaps it was thought that he would be able to easily transition into power.

Where is North Korea?

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Although little is really known about him, there seem to be two clearly different public images of him, depending on whose propaganda you read.

From China, and other nations with relations with North Korea, there are tales of a mythical man who learned to drive as a very young child and speaks a number of languages. He was educated in Switzerland, so the latter isn't much of a stretch to believe, as most Europeans speak a number of languages, at least while in school.

From the US, one can hear tales of a cruel, vicious young man who has been known to torture animals. He is a man who not only believes in his father's exalted status, but hopes to surpass his father and grandfather's achievements. Part of his strategy for coming into power even included undergoing multiple plastic surgeries in order to look more like his grandfather.

The reality could include elements of both, although I personally find it hard to picture a child of seven or eight speeding "safely" down the road at high speeds. A dictator's child may not have to suffer like his countrymen, but he probably does have a few household rules to obey.

In any case, it is mostly speculation.

The "Good Old Days"

It may seem odd that Kim Jong Eun would try to physically resemble his grandfather over his father (although they look enough alike that it's a fine distinction), but the standard of living has fallen consistently since the 1970s and some North Koreans could be nostalgic for the "good old days" before famine and food relief became a constant in their lives.

In addition to possible plastic surgeries, his public speaking style has also been compared to his grandfather.

North Korea Under Kim Jong Eun

Despite still being in his first year of power, Kim Jong Eun has wasted no time in making a name for himself. A rocket launch meant to intimidate South Korea ended in failure and embarrassment as it broke apart over the Yellow Sea shortly after take off.

However, that failure has not stopped him from claiming that North Korea has the means to attack the US. In real terms, the North has been jamming GPS signals in Seoul which affect flights as well as auto sat navs. So far, there have been no accidents as a result, but it is quite likely to be a more immediate threat to public safety than some long-range missiles which may or may not exist.

Kim Jong Eun is still an enigma, months after taking office. It may take months or years to find out what his real plans for his country are.

How do you think Kim Jong Eun's leadership will affect North Korea?

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  • AnnRandolph profile image

    AnnRandolph 5 years ago

    Interesting read. Thanks for sharing. Voted thumbs up!

  • hpedneau profile image

    Holly Pedneau 6 years ago from Princeton, West Virginia

    I really enjoyed this hub. Easy to read and provides information on different countries interpretation of his past. Voted up and useful!