When Kim Jong-un became the new Supreme Leader of North Korea after his father’s death in December 2011, the pariah state’s nuclear program was already underway. On CNN , the country reportedly tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006, leading to an outraged UN Security Council imposing some severe sanctions. Undeterred, the regime continued to invest funds in its nuclear research and has allegedly made a lot of progress since Kim took over: in 2017, state media claimed that North Korea had intercontinental ballistic missiles in its arsenal.
The fact that Kim continued his father’s work is not surprising, but no one expected to see him discuss that work with the President of the United States. Shifting his focus and seemingly embracing diplomacy, Kim came face-to-face with Donald Trump at a landmark summit in Singapore in 2018, marking the first time that the leaders of the two nations met… although their historic talks apparently stalled this year. following. .
Meanwhile, Kim disappeared from public view when the coronavirus pandemic took over the world in 2023, sparking rumors about his health. As of this writing, journalists still struggle to separate fact from fiction, but when it comes to Kim Jong-un, that has always been the case.
Kim Jong-un was educated in Switzerland
Little is known about Kim Jong-un’s early childhood (even his birth date is a mystery), but it has been confirmed that he spent four years in Europe, Switzerland, to be exact, starting in 1996. Using the name Pak Un and posing As the daughter of North Korean diplomats, Kim attended an international school in Bern, the neutral country’s capital, for Politico . He joined his older brother, who was already studying there, and his maternal aunt and uncle, who pretended to be his parents. The deal worked well until Kim’s mother was diagnosed with cancer.
With her connection to the threatened regime, Kim’s aunt and uncle fled to the United States embassy and applied for asylum. Speaking to journalist Anna Fifield from her home in the United States years later, Ko Yong-suk revealed what life was like looking after children Kim: “We lived in a normal house and acted like a normal family. I acted like your mother. Your friends would come and make you sandwiches. It was a very normal childhood with birthday parties and presents and Swiss children coming to play. ”
However, not all Swiss children shone with Kim. In fact, he was reportedly a stranger, with a former classmate who claimed he would attack when his classmates conversed in Swiss German, which he found difficult to understand: “He kicked us in the shins and even spat at us.”
Kim Jong-un has a weird bromance with Dennis Rodman
According to Anna Fifield’s book, The Great Successor , Kim Jong-un has always loved basketball and was often scolded for playing too much during his school days in Switzerland: His mother was reportedly horrified when she discovered that her son was sleeping with his official NBA ball every night. Every time Kim played, he wore the same Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey and a pair of Air Jordans. His love for Jordan was apparently passed on by his father, who once asked the United States to send the NBA star to North Korea, ABC News reports.
Jordan never made it to North Korea, but years later Kim managed to get another Bulls legend to accept an invitation to Pyongyang. Dennis Rodman first visited the country for a basketball exhibition in 2013, and struck up an unlikely friendship with the dictator. “Marshal Kim and I had a relaxing time by the sea with his family,” said Rodman The Guardian at the time. “He is a good father and has a beautiful family.” The Hall of Fame member even sang “Happy Birthday” to Kim when he returned the following year in a strange moment that sums up this strange bromance.
Rodman defended his “friend for life” when he spoke to Business Insider in 2019, alleging that he still receives regular invitations to North Korea, but that the President has forbidden him to travel to the country: “I can’t go because Donald won’t let me go ».
Kim Jong-un reportedly forces college students to copy his hairstyle
One thing that Kim Jong-un and his American counterpart have in common is that their haircuts generate a lot of conversation. Donald Trump reportedly uses hardener dye and spray to achieve his unique look, though fortunately for America’s youth, he doesn’t insist that people copy it. In 2014, a report emerged suggesting that the Supreme Leader of North Korea had introduced a new rule forcing male college students to wear their hairstyle. According to a source, who spoke to Radio Free Asia on condition of anonymity, not everyone was happy to have to adopt Kim’s appearance. “Our leader’s haircut is very unique, so to speak,” the source said. BBC News ) “It doesn’t always go with everyone, since everyone has different face and head shapes.”
The story got even bigger when a London salon used Kim’s face on a poster with the words “bad day” right next to it. What the owner didn’t realize was that the North Korean embassy was only a 10-minute walk away. The day after the announcement was published, he was visited by two North Korean officials who wanted to know why Kim’s face was being used. “Listen, this is not North Korea, this is England,” the manager reportedly told the men. “We live in a democracy, so I’m afraid you will have to leave my room.”
Kim Jong-un is married to a former entertainer and singer
Kim Jong-un is believed to have married his wife, Ri Sol-ju, in 2009 or 2010. According to sources quoted by The Telegraph , the nuptials reportedly took place shortly after her father suffered a stroke, with the regime willing to ensure that the Kim dynasty endured. Ri, who hails from an elite North Korean family, was reportedly part of his country’s Olympic cheerleading squad during his twenties and performed at concerts abroad. She was a member of the Unhasu gang, whose members are “carefully selected by the state based on their talent, appearance, and loyalty to the regime,” according to The Times of the Strait .
Ri’s profile has received a significant boost in recent years. She has been by her husband’s side during her visits abroad, usually looking quite fabulous (she showed up to a summit with a Christian Dior bag slung over her shoulder). Ri received the title of “Respected First Lady” before her first solo public appearance in 2018, having previously referred to herself simply as “madam” or “comrade” in North Korean state media. Like Kim, her date of birth is a mystery, but we know she has at least one son of the dictator: Kim’s best friend Dennis Rodman revealed that he “held her baby Ju-ae and spoke to Ms. Ri too »when he spoke to The Guardian back in 2013. The couple are believed to have three children in all.
Did Kim Jong-un have plastic surgery to look more like his famous grandfather?
In 2013, Shenzhen Chinese television published a story about Kim Jong-un who had his neighbor and ally in arms. According to Business Insider , a North Korean official reportedly confirmed to the station that the Supreme Leader had undergone six separate plastic surgery procedures in an effort “to look more like his grandfather, Kim Il-sung.” Known as “the eternal president” in North Korea, Kim Il-sung founded the country and has retained a divine status. China’s state news agency quickly denounced the story, but it was still picked up by numerous South Korean media outlets, which did not sit well north of the border. In fact, North Korea was absolutely furious.
“The false report released by the enemies is a horrible criminal act that the party, the state, the army and the people can never tolerate,” declared the North Korean propaganda agency KCNA (via Rapid ) “Those who hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the nation should expect no pity or indulgence. Time will clearly show what an expensive price the human scum and the means at the service of the traitors of South Korea, slaves of capital, will have to pay. The rumors persisted, of course, but is there any truth to them? According to North Korean defector Kim Yoo-sung, there may well be. “It is believed that North Korea’s top elite can undergo high-quality plastic surgery,” he wrote in his book: Ask a North Korean .
Do North Koreans really believe that Kim Jong-un never has to use the bathroom?
One of the most outlandish things about North Korea is that people reportedly believe that the Kim family does not need to use the bathroom. Forever. “[They] were perfect beings, untouched by any basic human function,” wrote Kang Chol-Hwan, deserter and survivor of the concentration camp, in his memoirs (via Daily Star ) “He was convinced, like all of us, that none of them urinated or defecated. Who could imagine such things from gods? »The truth, of course, is that Kim Jong-un is just a man, so how does he perpetuate this clear and obvious lie? Well, he travels with a mobile toilet.
Sources based in South Korea’s Pyongan province claimed that Daily NK that when Kim travels his country by convoy, one of those cars is actually a toilet with wheels. A source said it would be “unthinkable” for the Supreme Leader to have to use a public toilet. The dictator also packs a portable toilet when traveling abroad (South Korean newspaper El chosunilbo confirmed that he brought his own toilet when he met Donald Trump in Singapore), though apparently it is as much about security as it is about vanity.
Speaking to The Washington Post , a former member of the North Korean Guard Command, Lee Yun-keol, revealed that Kim’s droppings are considered top-secret material: “The leader’s excretions contain information about his health, so they cannot be left behind.
Could Kim Jong-un be driving a car at age 3?
In 2015, the South Korean television network YTN took possession of a manual for North Korean teachers that had been distributed to schools across the totalitarian country. Intended as a guide to a newly introduced class called Kim Jong Un’s Revolutionary Activities, the text was filled with outrageous claims about the childhood of the Supreme Leader. According to UPI , the brochure stated that Kim was a skilled artist and composer of classical music. This may well be true, but we are pretty sure he was not driving at age 3.
Children in North Korea appear to be taught that Kim was a child prodigy who could drive a vehicle when he was a young child. It’s not the only surprising thing he could do at age three, either: According to The Guardian , state propagandists have claimed that little Kim could fire a light bulb from 100 meters away at that age. At eight o’clock, he was apparently capable of driving a truck at 80 mph, and when he was nine years old, he allegedly “competed with the CEO of a foreign yacht company” and beat him through thick and thin, the incomplete teacher manual said.
Believe it or not, the stories told to North Koreans about Kim Jong-un are not as outlandish as the ones told about their father. Kim Jong-il is said to have written 1,500 books during his time in college (about 40 a month), and he apparently had the best golf record in the world when he died in 2011.
The Kim Jong-un regime was behind the Sony hack, the US claims. USA
When Sony gave the green light to a comedy about the murder of Kim Jong-un by American journalists, it was probably expecting a response of some sort. What the study clearly did not anticipate was a cyber attack that would cost tens of millions of dollars. North Korean overseas-based writer Kim Myong-chol went on the offensive when the trailer for Seth Rogen and James Franco The interview was released in 2014, and the regime soon followed suit, making it clear that the film’s launch was I would consider it an “act of war”. A government official told North Korea’s KCNA news agency (via The Guardian ) that there would be a “resolute and ruthless” reaction if the comedy were not shelved.
For starters, Sony held firm, but the studio will soon shudder when a group calling itself Guardians of the Peace hacked their computers and leaked everything from unreleased movies to embarrassing personal emails (Angelina Jolie, for example, was called in » minimally talented brat “in a message among executives). The interview The extensive theatrical release was canceled. North Korea denied involvement, but praised the hackers for their actions. Of course, few people really believed that the secret state was not involved in the hack. The United States openly blamed the Kim regime, and in 2018, a man named Park Jin-hyok was officially charged. The Justice Department described Park as a “programmer backed by the North Korean regime” and accused him of “conspiracy to carry out multiple cyber attacks and intrusions.”
Kim Jong-un reportedly has a piranha tank for James Bond-style executions
Kim Jong-un has reportedly executed numerous people since coming to power, including family members. In 2014, a state-backed Chinese newspaper claimed that Kim killed his own uncle in a horrible way. The report (via Independiente ) alleged that Jang Song-thaek was “naked” and thrown into a pack of 120 hungry dogs, along with at least five people from his inner circle. Hundreds of officials are said to have witnessed the horrible sight.
If reports are to be believed, Kim is a huge fan of using animals in his executions, and has apparently improved his game considerably in recent years. In 2019, the Daily Star claimed that the North Korean leader had ordered the construction of a huge piranha tank at his Ryongsong residence, reportedly used by Bond villain Karl Stromberg in 1977 The Spy Who Loved Me . According to the British newspaper, he threw one of his generals into imported meat-eating fish after suspecting that he was planning a coup.
“Kim rules out of fear,” a UK intelligence source told the tabloid newspaper. “Many enemies of the state are executed in public. He wants everyone to know, including his most trusted assistants, that they are at risk of a very unpleasant death if he suspects they are traitors. A total of 16 high-ranking aides are believed to have been fired during Kim’s tenure as Supreme Leader.
Kim Jong-un’s half brother was killed in public
Kim Jong-un’s half brother Kim Jong-nam once took over Kim Jong-il before he fell out of favor with his father and left Pyongyang for Macao, where he lived in exile. On February 13, 2017, Jong-nam was to fly to Macao from Kuala Lumpur, but would never leave the Malaysia airport. While waiting for her flight, a woman rubbed an “oily substance” on her face without warning, by The Guardian . When he disappeared, a second woman came up behind her and briefly covered her eyes and mouth with her hands. He died 20 minutes later. It turned out that he had been poisoned with a powerful nerve agent called VX, although the two women who administered it claimed they had no idea what it was.
The killers (two former bodyguards, one from Indonesia and the other from Vietnam) told Malaysian police that they had been tricked by North Korean agents and believed they were taking part in a prank for a Japanese YouTube channel. The charges against one were dropped, while the other spent only a few years behind bars. According to Dr. Nam Sung-wook, formerly of the South Korean intelligence agency, the Malaysian authorities were simply more interested in maintaining diplomatic ties than in justice. The Guardian “Kim Jong-un status is on the rise now that he meets with the President of the United States and the Vietnamese Prime Minister and leaders in the region, and Malaysia also wants to be part of this conversation.”
Were the rumors about Kim Jong-un’s health greatly exaggerated?
Rumors that Kim Jong-un was seriously ill after failed heart surgery began to spread like wildfire when he missed a celebration event marking his beloved grandfather’s birthday in April 2023. Some reports suggested that he had been Left in a vegetative state, while others claimed he was actually already dead: A manipulated image of him lying in this state went viral, increasing confusion. The story began when a website run by North Korean defectors claimed that the Supreme Leader’s cardiovascular problems had worsened. There is no concrete proof of this, but if Kim is in good health, why has she left without permission?
Kim has a history of temporarily disappearing for health reasons. He was absent for 40 days in 2014 as he was reportedly suffering from gout but has never missed his grandfather’s celebration the day before. Add the fact that China previously dispatched a team of medical experts to North Korea (via Reuters ), and it seemed pretty clear that it was in trouble, right? Not necessarily.
In writing these lines, the South Korean government claims to know exactly where Kim is, telling Reuters that he is likely to be isolated amid the coronavirus pandemic. “It is true that Kim Il Sung’s birthday anniversary has never been lost since he took office, but many anniversary events, including celebrations and a banquet had been [canceled] due to coronavirus concerns,” said the unification minister . “I don’t think it’s particularly unusual given the current situation.”