Revealed: the ‘face of Kim Jong Un’, schoolboy with a secret destinyhttp://www.timesonline.co.uk/
With their diverse faces, casual but expensive-looking clothes and youthful grins, they might be students of international schools anywhere in the world. But among the children of the wealthy bankers and diplomats is one boy with an extraordinary secret – the future heir to the world’s only hereditary totalitarian dictatorship.
A South Korean news agency has released what it says are new and rare photographs of Kim Jong Un, the youngest son of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, and the man apparently being prepared to inherit his father’s title. The images, reportedly taken when the young Mr Kim was a teenage student at an exclusive Swiss school, underline the normality of the early years of a man who may assume one of the most powerful and dangerous positions in the world.
The photographs were obtained by the Yonhap news agency in Switzerland, where young Mr Kim, now about 27, is believed to have gone to school in the 1990s. They show a chubby-faced young man with a distinct resemblance to the senior Mr Kim, and a less distinct image of a smiling youth amid a group of smiling classmates.
Little is known about the children of the man known as the “Dear Leader” but information has been trickling out since early last year when the first signs emerged that Jong Un was being groomed for the leadership. He was born around 1983, the youngest of three known sons by two wives.
His half-brother, Jong Nam, 39, is a gambler and frequent traveller who was photographed this week in the casino city of Macau. Jong Un, and his middle brother, Jong Chul, were born to Koh Young Hee, a Japanese-Korean dancer who died in 2004.
All three are reported to have been educated by at least two different Swiss boarding schools where they were enrolled under false names as the children of employees of the North Korean embassy to Switzerland. Conflicting reports place Jong Un at the English-speaking International School of Berne, or the German-speaking Steinholzli Schule in the town of Liebefeld, where he went by the name “Pak Un”.
The older Mr Kim is 68 and disappeared from public view for several months in 2008 after an apparent stroke. Since then, discreet efforts have begun to establish the image and reputation of Jong Un, who was formerly unknown to the North Korean population at large.
On Monday, Kim Jong Il named as his deputy on the National Defence Commission Chang Sung Taek, a senior cadre reported to be loyal to Jong Un. The changes come at a moment of tension – apart from the ever-present possibility that the senior Mr Kim could suffer another health relapse, the North is engaged in a war of words with South Korea which accuses it of having sunk one its warships in April.
Yesterday, in a sign of how few retaliatory options it has at its disposal, the South Korean Government confirmed that it would not seek new sanctions against North Korea in the United Nations Security Council. Such a request would in any case have almost certainly have been vetoed by North Korea’s closest international friend, China.In what might be a further sign of tension in North Korea, China reported yesterday that three of its citizens had been shot dead by North Korean guards who apparently suspected them of smuggling.