The Who2 Blog

Kim Jong-un: Five Craziest Rumors

[Note: posted in October of 2010.]

We’ve posted a new biography of Kim Jong-un, the next dictator of North Korea. 

Apparently next, that is. Kim Jong-un stood next to his father, Kim Jong-il, at a big military parade last weekend.  He also was just named a four-star general in the North Korean military — not bad for age 28 or so.  And of course, there’s a family dynasty: Kim Jong-il was handed power by his own dad, Kim Il-sung, who ruled from 1948-94.  62 great years!

Since North Korea has never officially mentioned Kim Jong-un until now, reporters are scrambling for scraps about him. Here are the five craziest rumors we read while researching our Kim Jong-un biography. (Remember, “crazy” doesn’t have to mean “not true.”) 

1. He had plastic surgery to look more like his granddaddy.  South Korean newspapers (echoed in The Telegraph) say that Kim Jong-un went under the knife to look more like Kim Il-sung. The result? “The youngest in the Kim dynasty has the same chubby cheeks as his grandfather, a double chin and the familiar mouth that turns down at the ends.”

2. He loves Jean-Claude Van Damme. Well, who doesn’t? But this tidbit comes from a former Japanese sushi chef who spent years with Kim Jong-il and later published a book, I Was Kim Jong-il’s Cook.  The book claims that Kim Jong-un loved Van Damme’s action movies, and also was a huge fan of the NBA and Michael Jordan.

3. He went to Swiss boarding school under a phony name.  The Swiss magazine L’Hebdo reported last year that Jong-un had attended the International School of Berne in around 1998 under the name Pak Chol.  The disclaimers: Others say it was not Jong-un but his older brother, Kim Jung-chol.  Still others say they both went to school there, under the guidance of this man, with Jong-un taking the name Pak Un.  And yet others say it was a different school altogether.

4. They tweaked his birthday to make him seem older. Kudos to Japanese news channel NHK for this scoop. North Korean officials have supposedly moved Kim Jong-un’s official date of birth to 1982 from 1983 (or is it 1984?), so that in 2012 he’ll turn 30 on the 100th anniversary of Kim il-Sung’s birth. The round numbers, so the theory goes, would make his succession seem more awesomely pre-ordained.

5. His brother got caught trying to visit Mickey Mouse.  Kim Jong-nam is 12 years older than Jong-un, and was himself the heir apparent until a weird 2001 incident in which he tried to sneak into Japan on a phony passport. His explanation: he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland. Nowadays Jong-nam splits his time between Macau and China, and he recently said he opposed “hereditary transfer” of power. Good luck with that.   

6. He has itty-bitty hands.  We’re starting this bonus rumor ourselves, based on the photo of Kim Jong-un above. It was taken by the AP at the military parade in Pyongyang. His curiously delicate paws are clearer in this enlarged version.  We ask you, are those the hands of a four-star general?

See our full Kim Jong-un biography >>


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