Monday, December 19, 2011

Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un is widely expected to be appointed the next leader of North Korea following the death of his father, the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il. Here, the BBC profiles the elusive young man.

Kim Jong-un is the youngest son of Kim Jong-il and his late third wife Ko Yong-hui.

Born in 1983 or early 1984, the young man was initially not thought to be in the frame to take up his father's mantle.

Analysts focused their attention on his half-brother Kim Jong-nam and older full brother Kim Jong-chol.

But speculation that he was being groomed to succeed his father picked up in January 2009, after a report from South Korea's Yonhap news agency suggested that Kim Jong-il had picked him as heir.

North Korea watchers also took his reported appointment to the powerful National Defence Commission as a possible signal that he was being moved into a leadership position.

The defence commission is North Korea's most important government body, and Kim Jong-il rules the country in his capacity as the commission's chairman.

On 2 June 2009, South Korea's intelligence agency reportedly briefed legislators that North Korean officials had been ordered to support the choice of Kim Jong-un as the next leader.

There have already been poems and a song, Footsteps, composed, to promote the young man's virtues as a leader.

Some 10 million portraits are being readied for distribution by the authorities to hang alongside those of his father and grandfather, according to reports.

At the same time, there has also been much speculation that the man being lined up as the "power behind the throne" is Chang Song-taek - the husband of Kim Jong-il's sister and director of the administrative department of the North Korean Workers Party.

Some analysts see him acting as a "regent" to Kim Jong-un until he is ready to rule on his own.

'Morning Star King'
Very little is known about the man himself. His mother was thought to be Kim Jong-il's favourite wife, and she clearly doted on her son, reportedly calling him the "Morning Star King".

In his 2003 book, I Was Kim Jong-il's Chef, a Japanese man writing under the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto also claimed that Jong-un was his father's favourite.

But the death of Ko Yong-hui in 2004, reportedly from breast cancer, appeared to put the younger Kim firmly behind his half-brother in the leadership stakes.

However Kim Jong-nam's deportation from Japan in May 2001, and middle brother Kim Jong-chol's apparent "unmanliness" subsequently improved his chances.

Swiss-educated like his brothers, Kim Jong-un avoided Western influences, returning home when not in school and dining out with the North Korean ambassador.

Since his return to Pyongyang, he is known to have attended the Kim Il-sung Military University.

But little has been made public about his character.

In August 2010 Kim Jong-il visited China. One South Korean TV station cited a South Korean official as saying Kim Jong-un had accompanied his father on the trip.

Kim Jong-un shares some of his late father's health problems, and is reported already to have diabetes and heart disease due to a lack of exercise.

He is reported to be a fan of NBA basketball.

But these details, as with many others in secretive North Korea, are impossible to confirm.

From : BBC News