As the malnourished North Korean children ate seeds for food, the teenager Kim Jong Un watched action movies and enjoyed sushi prepared by Japanese chef Kenji Fujimoto oblivious to the great famine that the country governed by his father experienced in the 1990s, Kim Jong Il, a 'playboy' lover of movies and drink.
Jong-un had grown up in a house where the children moved in an electric golf cart between mountains of Lego, Playmobil, puzzles and plastic guns, although he also had a real firearm: a Colt 45 that he began to take to the Belt from 11 years old. At 12, he entered the International School of Bern under a false identity, a private English-speaking school attended by the children of diplomats, where former students remember him as an introverted and picturesque being with a bowl-style haircut, who always He was in tracksuits, he was not a party animal, he did not drink alcohol and he avoided contact with girls. His grades were never exceptional.
He is a fan of the Chicago Bulls, a fan of James Bond movies and a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme.
He lived behind a hermetic curtain until 2005, when this staunch Chicago Bulls fan, James Bond movie buff and Jean-Claude Van Damme fan, he was presented to the North Korean elite as the Great Successor. I was 25 years old. Six years later he would become the third member of the saga that holds power in North Korea. Many analysts predicted that the regime would not make it through the transition to a third totalitarian leader. They were wrong.
The New Zealand journalist Anna Field, author of a highly documented reconstruction of the North Korean puzzle ('The Great Successor', Captain Swing), not only did she not see any cracks in the communist facade seven decades after the proclamation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, but also that "absolute wacko" you spoke of donald trump Before praising him as a leader, he is far from it.
The proof? "He has been in power for 10 years. He is cunning, ruthless and resourceful. I'd say he's rational and calculating. He has done everything he needed to become a totalitarian dictator,” Fifield replies via email. If we laugh at his cartoonish appearance and his ridiculous parades, we are underestimating the threat that Kim Jong-un poses to the world and, above all, to the 25 million North Koreans."
"He's cunning, ruthless and resourceful. I'd say he's rational and calculating," says Anna Fifield.
Head of an Army of 1.2 million soldiers – the fourth largest in the world – Kim he is the youngest world leader with nuclear weapons, his insurance policy not to end up like Muammar Gaddafi, defend against the United States and consolidate its control over the regime. Any hope of seeing in the third member of the Kim clan signs of opening comes up against the stumbling block of a family saga that began with Kim Il Sung, the guerrilla who fought against Imperial Japan in the 1930s.
"A slight economic freedom has been allowed, because the State cannot provide food or medicine, although it is very controlled. We are not talking about the kind of opening that China and Vietnam experienced," adds Fifield, who does not hide his surprise that Kim Jong-un can get hold of the latest model of Mercedes Benz despite international sanctions.
"The great mystery is how he continues to survive despite his outcast status, because North Korea it is clearly a pariah state. Most countries have avoided or ignored it and those who engage with the regime, like China and Russia, do so for geopolitical reasons – using North Korea as a tool against U.S– more than by affinities or shared values", continues the journalist.
The difficult succession
Kim Jong-un's strategy to stay in power has been to kill his own uncle and his stepbrother – a notorious poisoning in the middle of the Kuala Lumpur airport – and to win the favor of the 'millennials' of his generation, so that feel that their lives have improved, that they can go to cafes to drink cappuccinos and wear fashionable clothes like the ones they see on South Korean soap operas. "He is particularly focused on them because they are the ones who can potentially support him for decades to come."
His strategy is to win over the 'millennials', who can now go to bars to have a cappuccino
And the successor of the Great Successor? Some have wondered if Kim Yo-jong, the sister in whom the leader has full confidence could take his place, but the New Zealand journalist has a hard time imagining that scenario in such a patriarchal country. "If the North Korean regime wants to perpetuate the lie of the deified Kim family, they are the only option," says Fifield. "However, if Kim Jong-un were to leave suddenly, it is more likely that North Korea would end up ruled by a Myanmar-like military junta."
For the rest, the North Korean regime jealously guards all the details related to the health of the leader. In meetings held outside North Korea, his delegation travels with a portable toilet for your exclusive use. Thus, no sample is left from which medical information can be extracted.