- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
With Kim Jong Il having departed this world for the land of pizza pies and Hennessy — or something — attention now turns to his son and presumed successor Kim Jong Un. Like his dad, Jong Un’s background is largely shrouded in mystery. But here are a few things we know, or think we do:
Ken Gause wrote for FP in 2009, "According to Kim Jong Il’s former personal chef, Kim Jong-un was born in 1983 or 1984 to Kim’s third wife, Ko Hyong-hui, and is allegedly his father’s favorite son."
Jong Un was reportedly designated successor after his older bloger Kim Jong Nam embarassed the family with an ill-fated trip to Disneyland in 2001.
His health is questionable: There are reports that he inherited his father’s diabetes and he was injured in a car crash in 2008.
He was reportedly educated in Switzerland at the prestigious International School of Berne.
He shares his dad’s fondness for James Bond movies and Michael Jordan and former schoolmates remember him being mainly obsessed with basketball in his youth.
He’s thought to speak English, German, and French.
His father began grooming him only three years ago — not much time for a 20-something to prepare to lead a troubled country.
During his time in the North Korean government, he’s been personally linked to two disastrous initiatives — a 2009 currency reevalution that wiped out the life savings of many North Korean citizens and led to rare protests, and a 2010 artillery assault on a South Korean military installation.
According to official propaganda, he is "a military talent who has genius wisdom and policy" and "resembles our great general (Kim Jong Il) so much in appearance." His official nickname is "Brilliant Comrade". (His father was "Dear Leader" and his grandfather was "Great Leader."