Friday, 3 June 2016

What kind of person is Kim Jong un?

UPDATE: As we learn more and more about him he seems to be a Caligula like figure, too young, isolated, and vicious. 

With his nation dependent on international food aid this nut just created an international incident over Sony releasing a movie that made fun of him.  UN food aid was already saying that they would likely have to pull out of North Korea for lack of donations it is likely that 100,000s of North Koreans will now starve to death because this little shit didn't want a stupid Hollywood movie about him shown.  Keep the poor people of North Korea in your thoughts, because they are about to descend to a hell few people have seen.

Very little is known about Kim Jong-un as a person.  He attended private school in Switzerland but he was extremely sheltered, having meals at the embassy of North Korea. 

Reports of people who claim to have known him are not entirely reliable as he attended school under an assumed name and never made any indication of who he was.

Not a single reliable psychology picture from a former friend exists.

But we do have some clues as to what he might be like:

  • He is extremely young, not even 30 years old yet.
  • He is in an extremely high pressure position, facing off the world's largest superpower while his nation's economy collapses and people are starving again.
  • He is utterly dependent on the military for support.

Given these situations one can assume that the intellectually immature, sheltered young man suddenly thrust into a world where death sentences are commonplace and millions starve is almost certainly become extremely withdrawn, paranoid and potentially even delusional; though there is no hard evidence of any of these conclusions, they seem likely.

Without a long period of being publicly groomed for the role (as his father was), the young Kim must on some level feel unprepared to competently head up the entire state apparatus which dominates the lives of every person in the country.  Given that Kim's only claim to the government is via his father it is almost certain he lacks the ability to understand and command the situation and is dependent on others.

This would be difficult enough if North Korea were a normal nation, but North Korea is perhaps the most bizarre place on earth.  The extreme nature of the regime, the horrific conditions of its economy and the high-stakes global diplomacy would almost certainly create a degree of paranoia in any person put in Kim's position.

But the extreme hero worship that the leader is exposed to in North Korea combined with the suddenness of his rise from utter obscurity (3 years ago only one picture of him was in public circulation) has almost certainly lead to a degree of delusional thinking on his part.  He has shown a tendency to deal with situations with extreme bluff.   As the food situation in the nation is getting very bad he has launched rockets and made extreme threats, even cancelling the cease fire and ending what communications existed between the two Koreas.

There is a real uncertainty of how much of what he does is institutional power of the Army vs. his own personality.  One might hope that the Army, which is the true power in North Korea, is just continuing policies, but the sudden dramatic changes in the intensity of provocations might indicate that Kim is having more impact than one would hope.

But given the nature of what he has done, including executing people for not showing enough legitimate grief at his father's death would indicate he is ruthless, paranoid, likely delusional, utterly amoral and extremely dangerous.

He certainly is not the reformer some might have hoped.


In the time since this was written we have learned a great deal about this leader:

  1. He is in terrible health, gaining extreme amounts of body fat in a short time; and seen walking with a limp, he most certainly is at risk of gout (his grandfather also had it), hypertension, diabetes, and heart failure.
  2. He is ruthless, or is willing to allow ruthlessness, beyond his father or grandfather.  He is willing to have close members of his own family killed.
  3. He has terrible self-esteem, he wears painful ladies' high-heeled shoes to make himself look taller.
  4. Such rapid weight gain points also to heavy amounts of alcohol consumption, and he is a chain smoker.
  5. He may be very stupid and delusional, he has built what may be the biggest water park in the world and keeps it stocked with thousands of healthy swimmers to show tourists, rather than have them do any work, and seems ready to go to great lengths just to keep a silly movie about him from being shown.  He is clearly not thinking in terms of politics.

The combination of serious medical condition, inability to control his body weight and issues with his height combined with a situation of extreme power, lack of experience and exposure to any drug or alcohol he might want for someone so young and inexperienced can only be self-destructive.  I would doubt that you would find his private behaviour sane, and if he can keep a cold external face, his inner mind is a radical conflict of self-doubt and megalomanic narcissism like perhaps Saddam or Hitler.

This, along with his sheltered early life, provides him with no connection at all to the people he rules over, who he is rarely even shown near.  He lives in a life of internal power structures, drugs, larger meals, alcohol, smokes and, if he can still perform, sex.  This life's only connection to reality is the very real danger to his person from political intrigue, his terrible medical reality and a regime of touring factories and other dehumanised staged events.

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