By Dominic Oto
Table of Contents
Who is Kim Jung Un?
Kim Jung Un is a third generation dictator of North Korea (NK). He has been in power for six years. Kim conducted two nuclear tests in 2016 and more test this year along with numerous missile launches.
How does Kim treat family?
Kim had his own uncle arrested during a party meeting. Kim had him shot shortly afterward. Kim has purged “traitors” with any connection to his uncle. Kim has murdered more than 300 people of his inner circle. Kim has killed these “traitors” in public with firing squads.
Earlier this year Kim killed his half-brother Kim Jong Nam with a VX nerve agent in the Kuala Lumpur airport. One of the two female assassins wore a t-shirt that had text lingo on it saying, “Lol.” I wonder if this is a part of Kim’s warped sense of humor?
What do we know about Kim?
Much of the early life of Kim Jong Un has been shrouded in mystery since his birth. It’s presumed that Kim was born in North Korea. Kim is the youngest son of the previous leader Kim Jong Il and his favorite wife Ko Young Hee, an opera singer. Kim Jong Il was the dictator leader of North Korea for over a decade until his death in 2011. As a child, Kim was sent to a prestigious boarding school in Switzerland. He attended the school under an assumed name, claiming to be the son of a diplomat.
Kim attended a military academy named after his grandfather Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea. He was quickly promoted up the military’s ranks, mostly because of his family connections. Within days of his father’s death in 2011, Kim was transitioned into power. He had the support of his country’s ruling elite and military.
A strange unidentified woman has accompanied him since 2012 when he took power. She may be one of two singers, either Hyon Song Wol or Ri Sol Ju. Kim’s decision to appear openly with his wife was unprecedented. His father and grandfather kept their wives and mistresses out of the public eye.
Kim has executed some economic and agricultural reforms. His human rights violations and brutal suppression of opposition have continued under his rule, the same as his father and grandfather.
A Cult of Personality
North Korea is famous for creating a cult of personality around the leaders of the country. Kim Jong Un is no exception. Kim is a master of cultivating the godlike persona of his father and grandfather. Wherever Kim goes he is met with fanatical devotion from North Korean citizens.
North Korean soldiers wade into waist-deep water to get a glimpse of him as women cry at his arrival at different locations. This devotion may or may not be real. Crowds of citizens look like teenage girls at a Beatles concert in the 1960s. Kim is treated like a rock star everywhere he goes. The “Cult of Kim” is alive and well in North Korea.
The international community is angry at Kim for his nuclear program and human rights abuses. Since he took power prison camps in NK have expanded and a serious of crackdowns on would-be defectors.
No matter what NK does it’s still seen as one of the most opaque countries in the world. The jovial and smiling face of Kim Jong Un masks a dark reality of the intentions of the North Korean dictator. Kim is a man desperate enough to stay in power by threatening the world’s remaining superpower with nuclear weapons. His nuclear card is the last refuge of a man who wants to stay in power more than anything, despite the fact his citizens are starving to death.
About the author:
Oto holds a BS in History from Oregon State University and a MMA in Military History from American Public University. He served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Company Commander and Staff Trainer to the Afghan National Army. He was wounded once and decorated three times. Oto is an Infantry Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve.