Who is Kim Jong-un, the “child dictator” who rules North Korea

Kim Jong UnNorth Korean politician and military man, is the third son of Kim Jong-il (second dictator of North Korea from 1994 to 2011) and grandson of Kim Il Sung (founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from 1948 to 1994). Having come to power in North Korea before he was even thirty years old by decision of his father, he manages power in a dictatorial manner. Over the years, Kim has tested atomic bombs and nuclear missiles, causing concern on the international scene. His relations with the South Korea and with the West they are very tense and an attempt at détente, advanced between 2018 and 2019, was soon interrupted. Today the nuclear policy of the North Korean regime is one of the reasons for international tensions.

Kim Jong Un
  • 1Kim Jong-un and the North Korean regime
  • 2Kim Jong-un’s youth
  • 3The rise to power
  • 4Kim Jong-un’s domestic and economic policies
  • 5International tensions and North Korean nuclear weapons

Kim Jong-un and the North Korean regime

Kim Jong-un has ruled North Korea since December 2011. He was chosen as leader by his father, Kim Jong-il. North Korea is in fact a sort of permanent dictatorship of the Kim family: in 1948, after the liberation from Japanese occupation, he came to power, Kim Il Sunggrandfather of Kim Jong-un, and in 1994, when he died, the powers passed to his son Kim Jong-il.

Statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il (credist JA de Roo)

North Korea is a socialist state and was an ally of the USSR and China during the Cold War. The regime, however, is not based so much on Marxism, but on Juche philosophywhich involves the use of national resources and, in fact, isolation in foreign policy.

Since he came to power, Kim Jong-un has maintained the dictatorial approach of the regime, maintaining North Korea’s status as a totalitarian country. For example, in North Korea the leader’s birthday is a national holiday.

It is not yet known who Kim Jong-un’s heir will be, whose assets are estimated at 5 billion dollars. According to some sources, Kim Jong-un’s power could pass into the hands of his daughter.

Kim Jong-un’s youth

Kim’s date of birth is not known with certainty. North Korean authorities claim that theJanuary 8, 1982but according to Western analysts it came into the world in 1983.

Probably, between the nineties and two thousand Kim has studied in Switzerland, introducing himself as the son of a diplomat from the North Korean embassy in Bern. It seems that he was very ambitious, but that he did not excel in his studies. In the years spent in Switzerland he developed a great deal passion for basketball.

Upon returning to Korea, Kim continued his studies at Pyongyang University and, after graduation, was chosen by his father as his successor, in place of his older brothers. Kim first appeared in public in 2010, when he was nominated army general and member of the central committee of Labor Partythe single party in power.

During the same period, singer Ri Sol-ju got married. The marriage was made public in 2012, but it probably took place in 2009 and was wanted by Kim Jong-il to perpetuate the “dynasty”. According to South Korean sources, the couple has several childrenbut there is no certain information on the matter.

Ri Sol-ju

The rise to power

Kim Jong-il died on December 17, 2011. His son was immediately appointed commander of the army and in April 2012 he also assumed the role of first secretary of the party and other titles. In fact, Kim Jong-un centralized all power in his hands.

In the early years, however, the dictator was to some extent controlled by his mother’s brother, Chang Sung-taek, who had perhaps been tasked by Kim Jong-il with managing the transition. In 2013 the regime accused Chang of attempting a coup d’état and he had him executed.

Kim Jong-un’s domestic and economic policies

Kim introduced some changes in his father’s policy. In 2013, for example, he promoted one economic reform which left greater autonomy to companies and managed to increase production.

However, it has not changed the dictatorial approach of the regime. North Korea is one of the most isolated countries in the world: citizens do not have access to information other than that desired by the regime, are required to venerate political leaders and cannot travel abroad.

Crowd in Pyongyang watches Kim on state television

Likewise, news on what is happening in Korea is very fragmentary. Some news about Kim was revealed by none other than an American basketball player, Dennis Roadmanwho was invited to Korea by the president in 2013.

Western analysts believe Kim gave the order purges and executions, but the news has not always been confirmed and in some cases has been denied. However, it is certain that the dictator’s half-brother, Kim Jong-namwas killed in Malaysia in 2017.

International tensions and North Korean nuclear weapons

North Korea is considered a enemy from the United States and the Western world, which imposed harsh trade sanctions on the country. Also particularly tense are the relations with South Koreaan ally of the United States, because neither Korea has ever given up on reunifying the country.

The aspect of Kim’s policy that creates the most concern is the development of nuclear weapons. The dictator has indeed increased the construction of atomic bombs, already started by his father, and equipped the armed forces with ballistic missiles to transport them. Military tests carried out in the 2010s have raised concerns on the international scene.

Missile models displayed in Pyongyang

Between 2018 and 2019, however, it began a phase of relaxation. Kim met several times with South Korean President Ming Jae-in and United States President Donald Trump, with whom he agreed to undertake peaceful relations and begin the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Détente has occurred discontinued from 2020also due to the more general worsening of international relations and the antagonism between the United States, Russia and China caused by the Russian-Ukrainian war and the Taiwan issue.

In recent years, North Korea has equipped itself with new weapons, including a submarine capable of launching nuclear missiles and a spy satellite. The military threat, according to many observers, is aimed at putting pressure on the United States to obtain the easing of sanctions.

North Korea maintains cordial relations with China, although the Beijing authorities have condemned the nuclear tests carried out on the orders of the dictator. Kim also consolidated the relations with Russia and some analysts believe it supplies weapons to the Russian military.