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Kim Jong-un

3rd Supreme Leader, North Korea
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Kim Jong-un (officially transcribed Kim Jong Un; Korean: 김정은; Korean pronunciation: [kim.dzɔŋ.ɯn]; born 8 January 1983 or 1984) is a North Korean politician who has been the supreme leader of North Korea since 2011 and chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea since 2012. He is the second child of Kim Jong-il (1941–2011), who was North Korea's second leader from 1994 to 2011, and Ko Yong-hui (1952–2004). He is the grandson of Kim Il-sung, who was the founder and led North Korea from its establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994.

From late 2010, Kim Jong-un was viewed as heir apparent to the leadership of North Korea, and following the elder Kim's death, North Korean state television announced him as the "Great Successor". Kim holds the titles of Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea (as First Secretary between 2012 and 2016), Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, commander-in-chief (as SAC chairman), and member of the Presidium of the Politburo of the Workers' Party of Korea, the highest decision-making body in North Korea. Kim was promoted to the rank of Marshal of North Korea in the Korean People's Army on 18 July 2012, consolidating his position as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. North Korean state media often refers to him as Marshal Kim Jong-un, "the Marshal" or "Dear Respected."

Kim rules a dictatorship where elections are not free and fair, government critics are persecuted, media is controlled by the regime, internet access is limited by the regime, and there is no freedom of religion. His regime operates an extensive network of prisons and labor camps; the regime convicts people for political crimes and uses collective punishment whereby members of a family get punished for the crimes of one person. According to the United Nations, North Koreans live under "systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations" where the regime "seeks to dominate every aspect of its citizens’ lives and terrorizes them from within." The regime exerts extensive control over the North Korean economy, with substantial state-controlled economic enterprises and significant restrictions on North Koreans' ability to engage in foreign economic activity. Forbes magazine ranked Kim as the 36th most powerful person in the world in 2018 and the highest amongst Koreans. On 12 December 2013, Kim ordered the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek for "treachery". Kim is widely believed to have ordered the assassination of his half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, in Malaysia in February 2017.

In 2018, Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met twice in Panmunjom on the border between North and South, and once in Pyongyang. On 12 June 2018, Kim and US President Donald Trump met for a summit in Singapore, the first-ever talks held between a North Korean leader and a sitting US President, to discuss the North Korean nuclear program. A follow-up meeting in Hanoi in February 2019 ended abruptly without an agreement. On 25 April 2019, Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin held their first summit in Vladivostok, Russia. On 30 June 2019, Kim met with both South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump at the Korean Demilitarized Zone.


Last Updated: December 26, 2019


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