Friday, February 20, 2009

Kim Jong Un, North Korean Successor?

The question remains if Kim Jong Il’s youngest son will be officially appointed as his successor, as reports indicate. The youngest son has registered as a candidate for the elections on March 8, Yonhap news agency suggest the registration means the process of designating the leader's successor has started. Even if this is the case, it is still possible that Jong Un may eventually serve as no more than a figurehead while real power lies with older and more experienced leaders.

Jong Un was born on January 8, 1983 and, as the youngest of three known sons of Kim Jong Il, he might have been expected to remain subordinate to his older brothers, in keeping with Confucian tradition. Jong Un, and his brother Jong Chul, 28, were born to Koh Young Hee, a Japanese-Korean dancer.

He, like his brothers, was educated at an exclusive private boarding school in Bern, Switzerland. According to Kenji Fujimoto, a Japanese who worked as personal sushi chef to Kim Jong Il and knew both the young “princes” well, it was obvious from his childhood that Jong Un would eventually take over from his father. “The older brother, Jong Chul, had the warm heart of a girl,” he told The Times. “The younger prince, Jong Un, was a boy of inner strength.”

As teenagers, the boys played basketball and, even after casual games among friends, Jong Un would coach his teammates and analyze the successes and failures of their matches. Jong-un is said to be fiercely competitive and cannot stand to lose.

Chosun Ilbo reports that since 2002, Jong Un studied military science at the Kim Il Sung Military University, which trains military leaders. He is said to have received private tutoring as well by inviting academics to teach him at home. Due to the stress from the death of his mother, Jong-un is also rumored to have grown fat, weighing 90 kg at only 175 cm tall. He is also rumored to have developed diabetes and high blood pressure, traits he inherited from his father. There were rumors that he suffered a motorcycle accident last year.

Lastly, a factor not to dismissed, Fujimoto said Jong-un resembles his father both in his facial features and his physique.

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