Five things you didn’t know about North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un

leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, turns 40 this Monday. Or at least that’s what most experts and sources think, identifying his birth year as 1984.

The grandson of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, he became one of the youngest leaders in history when he took power in 2011. After the death of his father Kim Jong Il.

The third Kim DynastyChina, which has ruled with an iron fist under the communist system for more than seventy years, has become an important figure in geopolitics in Northeast Asia and even the world.

As a continuation of his father’s “military first” policy that prioritized military development, he possesses a nuclear arsenal that the regime considers a guarantee of its survival and seeks to use it as a bargaining chip in international diplomacy.

This, added to its The ability to build and launch long-range rocketsplacing the United States, a country it considers its main enemy and a constant threat, within range of its atomic attack.

Relations between China and South Korea have been in a state of technical war since 1953, going through phases of tension and detente, with conciliatory gestures but also frequent threats and specific military conflicts that have never seriously escalated.

Kim Jong Un has exploited the distance between his two allies in the region, Russia and China, and the United States to improve relations with them.This is especially the case with Moscow, which, according to the Ukrainian government, has provided weapons despite severe international sanctions.

Like his predecessor, Kim Jong Un’s North Korea is characterized by poverty, hunger and extreme secrecy about all information coming in and out of the country, especially information related to his political elite.

That’s why there are no conclusive answers to key questions about North Korea’s top leader and his country’s management.

Here we try to answer some of these questions.

1. When was Kim Jong Un born?

In fact, we are not absolutely sure.

“There is widespread debate about the year he was born, 1982, 1983 or 1984,” Edward Howell, professor of politics at Oxford University and one of the great experts on closed North Korea, told the BBC explained.

January 8 is his birthday, which, unlike his father’s and grandfather’s anniversaries, is a normal working day in North Korea.

Every February 16th is Kim Jong-il’s birthday, known as “Bright Star Day”, while April 15th is Kim Il-sung’s birthday, known as “Sun Day”. Both are important holidays in the country.

In any case, as in the phases of his predecessors, especially Kim Jong Il, many details about his family are shrouded in mystery.

It is understood that Kim Jong-un’s father had brothers, one of whom, Kim Jong-nam, was assassinated in Malaysia in 2017. Experts believe the operation may have been ordered by North Korean leaders.

Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, is believed to have had at least four different partners, although their relationships have been mostly kept secret from the public.

The current leader’s mother, Ko Young-hui, is believed to have been born in Japan and came to North Korea in the 1960s. As a dancer, she was loved by Kim Jong Il’s many concubines.

In 2018, photos taken by Ko Young-hee during her visit to Japan in 1973 were discovered.

South Korean newspaper “Korea Times” interpreted that North Korea did not disclose more public information about Kim Jong-un’s mother due to her career and family history related to Japan.

“Being born in Japan, which occupied the Korean peninsula during World War II, would normally relegate a person to the lower rungs of North Korean society. But because Ko Yong-hui was married to Kim Jong-il, she lived a lavish lifestyle,” Howell said.

2. Who is Kim Jong-un’s wife?

Again, we do not have complete information.

His wife, Ri Sol-ju, is well known and often appears at ceremonies and state media, but the date of their marriage is unknown (possibly 2009).

for”Comrade Li Xuezhu”, a singer believed to have caught Kim Jong-un’s attention during the performance.

There is a Korean artist named this; believed to be her, although it has never been officially confirmed to be the same person.

South Korean lawmakers quoted intelligence sources as saying that Ri Sol Ju visited South Korea in 2005 as a member of the North Korean cheerleading team participating in the Asian Athletics Championships and studied singing in China.

North Korea has provided no details other than describing her as Kim Jong Un’s wife.

3. How many children does Kim Jong Un have?

Here we have another family fact that is difficult to specify.

In 2016, there was speculation that Lee Sol-ju was pregnant after she disappeared, but it was never officially confirmed.

The two previous children are believed to have been born in 2010 and 2013, but it is not known if they were boys and therefore potential heirs. In fact, very little is known about them.

The North Korean leader appeared on camera with his daughter Kim Joo-ae, believed to be the couple’s second daughter.. She is approximately 10 years old and is the only known person to have made at least five public appearances in 2023.

“We still don’t know the full story of her children,” Howell explained, reminding us that former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman revealed his daughter in a 2013 interview after developing a friendship with Kim Jong Un name.

“He had other children, but not much is known about them. We don’t know who their mother was,” added Howell, a North Korea expert.

Contrary to the beliefs of many analysts (and even a recent report by South Korean intelligence services), Howell does not believe Kim Joo-ae is prepared to replace the leader if the opportunity arises.

He is still young, while Kim Jong-un’s influential sister Kim Yo-jong has more experience and better connections with the elite, That could make her the most likely candidate to succeed her brother.

“The leader of North Korea shows up to missile launches, banquets or football games with his young daughter because he wants to be seen as a family man and a benevolent leader,” Howell said.

4. How does Kim Jong-un obtain funding despite sanctions and economic isolation?

North Korea and its leaders have faced tough sanctions from the United Nations and several Western countries for years over their development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

But Howell said Kim is doing everything he can to evade those sanctions.

The country has a dedicated slush fund designed for the regime’s use. “Kim wanted to continue this because he wanted him and his family to continue living a lavish lifestyle,” he said.

Howell estimated that there are networks around the world that provide funds to North Korea, and there are allegations that North Korean leaders may also obtain funds through other illegal means.

People often think of North Korea as an isolated country that lacks the Internet.It has a state-run internet Cyberwarfare has become an important strategy: The Kim regime hacks into other countries’ computer systems to steal money to manage their economies and fund their nuclear programs,” Howell explained.

5. How does Kim Jong-un face North Korea’s economic crisis?

At the 2020 military parade, the supreme leader revealed a previously unknown face.

After thanking the troops for their efforts in fighting the epidemic and recent natural disasters, He wiped away tears as he spoke about the challenges facing the country. It was a display of emotion never seen before from a North Korean leader.

Some observers believe he may be trying to project humility amid a deepening economic crisis.

However, a look at the North Korean leader’s seemingly lavish lifestyle may suggest otherwise.

Kim Jong-un continues the tradition of long-distance travel on luxury trains started by his grandfather, Kim Il-sung.

In 2001, a Russian military commander who accompanied the current leader’s father, Kim Jong Il, on a trip spoke of Kim Jong Il’s opulence.

“You could order anything from Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and French cuisine,” he wrote in his memoir.

South Korean intelligence services have assured that North Korea imports hundreds of millions of dollars worth of luxury goods every year, some of which is believed to be for the leader and his cronies.

This is in stark contrast to the poverty suffered by most North Koreans.

North Korean residents told the BBC that food was so scarce that several of their neighbors starved to death. Experts believe this is the worst situation since the 1990s.

For Howell, this is indicative of Kim Jong Un’s priorities.

“He wants not only to retain power but also his own oppressive and brutal leadership. “He doesn’t seem to care about his country’s 26 million inhabitants,” he said.

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BBC-NEWS-SRC:, import date: 2024-01-08 03:37:04

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