From the halcyon days of the Roman Empire to the sea-born conquest of the Spanish Empire, it is the grand tradition of tyrannies across the world to start strong and then slowly get stupider and crazier. Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in the modern day dictatorship in North Korea, a poverty-stricken country that’s being run by a chubby madman named Kim Jong Un, the third generation of a family that started strong(ish) and then took substantial leaps and bounds into the arena of crazy and stupid. With North Korea hidden behind a shroud of secrecy and misinformation, however, how much do we really know about Kim Jong Un, the current uncontested leader of North Korea? If any of the defectors and spies coming out of the country are to be believed, Kim Jong Un is a complete oddball who’s running the country like its his personal play pen. Here are some of the strangest stories surrounding the Supreme Leader that have come out of North Korea.
1. Kim Jong Un Wasn’t Expected to Take the Helm
Kim Jong Un is actually the third Kim son. In other words, he wasn’t expected to run the show, a fact his father acknowledged when Un was sent to a Swiss boarding school as a kid. Then, the oldest brother Kim Jong Nam was caught sneaking into Japan to visit Tokyo Disneyland. Then, Kim Jong Il ruled out middle kid Kim Jong Chul because, according to one source, the Supreme Leader considered Chul too effeminate. As a result, the third kid in line, Kim Jong Un, was summoned to the plate.
2. He Believes People Can Always Grieve Harder
When Kim Jong Il passed away, one of Kim Jong Un’s first acts as Supreme Leader was to keep a close eye on his followers’ level of grief. Throughout North Korea, those people who were accused of not paying enough tribute to Kim Jong Un were actually imprisoned for up to six months at a time. Those people who publicly or privately criticized the new leader or tried to leave North Korea were also punished.
3. No One Is Sure Exactly How Old Kim Is
He was probably born on January 8, but Kim Jong Un’s birth year is a matter of debate. The official birth year has been declared 1982, because it’s in line with state theology (Kim Il Sun was born in 1912 and Kim Jong Il was supposedly born in 1942). However, South Korean intelligence puts the Supreme Leader’s birth year as 1984.
4. He Cuts His Own Hair, But It’s Cool
In spite of the fact that Kim Jong Un has access to millions of dollars, he still cuts and styles his own hair. The prevailing story is that Kim had a “traumatic experience” at the barber as a child and refuses to go back. Fortunately, Kim has the power to insure that people love his hair cut, no matter what it looks like, and he’s done just that. Kim has actually mandated that the young men in his country have to copy his hairstyle, keeping it less than 2cm and shaved on the sides.
5. There Are Rumors That Kim Jong Un Got Plastic Surgery to Look More Like His Grandpa
In North Korea, Kim Il Sung is considered the top dog, the “eternal President.” When Kim Jong Un took over one Chinese report indicated that — insecure about concerns over his ability to rule — Kim Jong Un actually went so far as to get plastic surgery in order to more closely resemble Kim Il Sung. Of course, North Korea eventually refuted the reports, calling them “false” and saying they were “released by enemies”
6. Kim Jong Un Has a Reputation For Humiliating His Political Opponents Before Killing Them
Let’s take the case of Kim’s uncle Jang Song Thaek. Thaek was considered a chief political rival to Kim’s regime, so the little dictator had Thaek accused of some trumped up charges and sentenced to death. Some people claim Thaek and his followers were killed with anti-aircraft guns. The most prominent theory, however, says that “Jang Song Thaek and five of his aides were stripped naked and fed to 120 hungry hounds, who had been starved for three days.”
7. Kim is the World’s Highest Ranking Military Officer With Zero Experience
At the tender age of just 33 (or 34 or 35), Kim Jong Un is the world’s youngest head of state. As the leader of North Korea, he’s also the state’s highest ranking military man, the person with his finger on the big, red button. This designation means that — by default — Kim Jong Un is the world’s youngest military general with no military experience of any kind.
8. He Has a Real Problem With People Pointing Out His Weight
In the years since Kim Jong Un has taken over in North Korea, photographers have noticed that the Supreme Leader has put on a few pounds. If you’ve noticed him swell, you’re not the only one. In China, social media users have taken to calling him Kim Fatty the Third. This designation hurt Kim’s feelings so much that he formally requested that the Chinese government delete any reference to him as “fatty”.
9. He’s Created His Own Girl Group
Kim Jong Un’s fascination with Western culture is far from a secret, but you might not realize that he’s actually tried his hand at building his own girl group. Known as the Moranbong Band, they’re (shockingly) super popular in North Korea. There are even reports that shops shut down for television appearances.
10. He Might Be On His Way Out the Door
In early January of 2017, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to Britain, Thae Yong Ho, chose to abandon Kim’s regime. Hoping to rescue his children what he called the “slavery” of the North Korean regime, Ho stated that in spite of North Korea’s claims to the contrary, the international sanctions on North Korea are crippling Kim’s control and threatening to bring down his reign. Ho predicted a “popular uprising” within the country and publicly committed himself to helping make it happen.
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