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King Kim Jong-un: everything you need to know about the North Korean dictator before meeting Trump

12 June US President Donald Trump has to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The head of the DPRK, according to CNN, has already arrived in Singapore, where his summit with Trump is scheduled, and met with the Prime Minister of this country. The leaders of the United States and North Korea are planning to discuss the issue of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Русская служба BBC I collected information about the man who had threatened the United States for many years, with whom Donald Trump now has to agree.

Photo: KOCIS (Korean Culture and Information Service) press service

Heir

That day - December 28, 2011 - turned out to be frosty. The mournful cortege rolled slowly through the streets of Pyongyang. Large snowflakes drifted noiselessly onto the lacquered iron of the black Lincoln. On the roof is a bed of white chrysanthemums, on it is a coffin with the body of the Great Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Il.

On the sides lined up with a heartbroken people. People cried bitterly, beat their breasts, shouted: “Father! Father!". To restrain the crowd detached soldiers.

Next to the hearse was a noticeably depressed son and successor to the dictator, 27-year-old Kim Jong-un. More than once during the ceremony, he could not hold back the tears.

Behind him walked his uncle Chan Song Taek, who was then considered the second man in the country. And on the other side of the coffin is Chief of Staff Lee Yong Ho and Defense Minister Kim Yong Chun. It was this old guard that now had to decide the fate in Pyongyang. At least, so many thought.

In the 1950s, Kim Jong-un's grandfather, Kim Il Sung, created a system of succession to the throne that was unique to the socialist camp. For two decades he was preparing his eldest son, Kim Jong Il, to succeed him. Wherever the Great Leader appeared, the Crown Prince was always there.

When the old man went to another world in 1994, Kim Jong Il took his place without delay. When he himself unexpectedly reposed in 2011, his own son and successor, Kim Jong-un, barely had time to take the first steps in preparing for the transfer of power. Many foreshadowed the end of the system of sole government. Very soon they realized that they were wrong.

In less than a few months, Lee Young Ho and Kim Young Chun lost all their posts. Moreover, Lee disappeared, and his whereabouts are still unknown.

Two years after the mourning procession through the snowy Pyongyang, Kim took his most decisive step. In December, 2013, his uncle Chan Song Taek, was tied up at a politburo meeting, accused of plotting a coup, and shot.

The time from 2012 to 2016 years Kim Jong-un dedicated large-scale cleaning in the best traditions of his grandfather Kim Il Sung.

The South Korean Institute for National Security Strategy reported the execution of 140 senior military and civilian officials. Another two hundred lost their posts, and some of them lost their freedom.

Kim got rid of everyone who stood in his way, and replaced them with loyal cadres from the younger generation. The process of changing the nomenclature was led by his sister Kim Yo Jeong. In 2017, she entered the politburo, even though at that time she was only 30 years old.

No one has any doubts about who rules the ball in Pyongyang. Kim Jong-un settled down and established himself as the Supreme Leader.

Tea for Two

Since that frosty funeral day in Pyongyang, 6 has passed. On a warm April 2018 day, Kim Jong-un drinks tea on a blue wooden platform on a glade in the demilitarized zone on the border with South Korea. He is not alone.

Kim listens intently to Moon Jae-in, historic tea partner and president of South Korea. The meeting is broadcast live, but no words are heard - only the singing of rare birds in a deserted forest.

Half an hour, experts around the world, clinging to the screens, are trying to decipher sign language and guess what it is and where the conversation is going.

Just a few months before, Kim launched a rocket through Japan’s airspace and threatened to burn Seoul and the United States on fire. And now he is smiling and talking sweetly with his sworn enemy.

Somehow it does not look like a man who ordered the execution of his own uncle. The whole world stood waiting, trying to figure out what he wanted, and President Trump will have to figure it out.

Little general

Let's go back to 1992. Villa in Pyongyang. The holiday is a birthday. The boy is 8 years old.

Among the gifts, one stands out. This is a general's uniform. Not a toy, but a real one - a miniature version of the full dress uniform of a general of the Korean People's Army.

Among the guests are generals in years. They bow their heads respectfully in front of an 8-year-old boy. His name is Kim Jong Un.

The story of the construction of young Kim as a general was told to American journalists by his aunt Ko Yong Suk in 2016. By that time, she had been living in the West for almost 20 for years, where she had fled with her husband.

At that holiday, Ko understood who would be Kim Jong-il's successor.

“He didn't have a chance to grow up to be a normal person with this attitude from others,” said Ko.

A few years later, Koh Young Sook was entrusted to accompany Kim Jong-un to Switzerland, where his father found a private school for him.

According to her, Kim was a hot-tempered and arrogant young man.

“He was not particularly naughty, but he was easy to start up and did not make any compromises. If the mother reproached him for playing a lot and doing little, he did not argue, did not snap, but simply refused to eat in protest. ”

In addition to these crumbs of information about childhood and adolescence, Kim Jong-un almost nothing is known. That's why it is difficult to understand why in the race of successors he walked around his elder brother Kim Jong Chol and his stepbrother Kim Jong Nam.

The first ascent of Kim Jong Un to the heights of power was anticipated by Japanese chef Kimov, known under the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto.

In 1990, he cooked sushi and other Japanese food for Kim Jong Il. He claims that he often played with young Kim Jong-un.

In 2001, the cook returned to Japan and published a book about Kimah. In it, he describes the first meeting with the sons of the Great Leader.

“When I first saw two young princes, they were wearing military uniforms. They went around all the staff and everyone shook hands. When my turn came, Prince Kim Jong-un measured me with an icy look. As if I wanted to say: "Like you, the Japanese, we hate." I will never forget those cold eyes. He was 7 years old. ”

In 2003, Fujimoto released the second book. In it he wrote:

“The most likely successor is Kim Jong Chol. But I strongly doubt it. Kim Jong Il often said, "Jong Chol is no good, he's like a girl." His favorite is the youngest son, the second prince. Jong-un is all father. They even have the same physique. But the people are not told about him. "

Incredible prediction. At that time, Kim Jong-un was not even heard in North Korea, not like in the world.

Fight for the throne

When Choi Min Jung was 14, he was recruited into the elite division of the North Korean army, the Security Command. He is now a defector and lives under an assumed name in the south of the Korean peninsula.

The secret unit responsible for guarding the North Korean ruling dynasty recently held rare shows. When Kim Jong-un was driving to the April meeting with the South Korean leader, a dozen tall bodyguards dressed in dark suits, white shirts and striped ties were walking around his Mercedes.

These guys are the cream of the power elite. Choi Min Jung had no chance of being among them. Firstly, it did not come out in height. Secondly, by origin.

“I wasn't in the upper classes,” Choi tells me. “Therefore, they didn’t take me into the personal bodyguards of the Supreme Leader. They were sent to a combat unit ”.

Under the socialist slogans of universal equality, a caste system, the songbun, flourishes in North Korea. People are divided into social groups by origin.

The belonging of a person to a particular sonburn is determined by the behavior of his ancestors during the years of the Japanese occupation and the Korean War. Access to housing, food and education depends on a sonburn.

But most importantly, Songbun is for life. If the grandfather fought with the Japanese, the grandchildren will be recorded in the main layer of trustworthy citizens. If he worked for the Japanese, the grandchildren will forever remain enemies of the people from the hostile layer.

Choi's ancestors were peasants. They did not serve the Japanese - but they were not partisans either. So Choi had to be content with a fighting squad.

At the same time, low social status did not diminish his loyalty.

“In North Korea, people have been brainwashed since childhood,” he says. - Kims were deified. And I believed in it. "

“Once Kim in the New Year's appeal called for an increase in coal mining. I said: “I am going to work for the mines!” That was how I was naive and faithful. ”

Very soon Choi realized that the task of the Guard Command was to protect the Kims not from external enemies, but from their own people. Choi was taught not to trust anyone, not even his own parents.

“For the Kim family, everyone is a potential enemy. The army, the General Staff, the Ministry of Defense, the entire North Korean people are all potential enemies, ”he says.

The number of personal guards grew in proportion to the paranoia of the ruling family.

“The collapse of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the socialist camp plunged them into deep shock. They began to strengthen the guard: now there are 120 of thousands of soldiers. ”

Like the medieval kingdom, the Kimov regime lives on the idea of ​​preserving its own power and sees enemies everywhere. And, like the monarchs of the past, does not stop at killing for the sake of holding positions.

Фото: Depositphotos

Brother

At a party in one of the restaurants of the Malaysian capital 12 in February 2017, a group of young people celebrated the 25 anniversary of the Indonesian girl City of Asia. Birthday girl shared with them the good news: she was invited to participate in a reality show.

Finally, she will quit the hated job in the bathhouse. “You will become a star!”, - the friends rejoiced.

The next morning at the Kuala Lumpur airport, she splashed water in the face of a plump balding man. “Here's a yu duing?” The dumbfounded stranger asked in broken English. "Sorry", - running away, City Aisia threw back.

She later said that it was a harmless joke for a reality show. However, Malaysian authorities charged her with murder.

A group of people from a cafe was watching the scene. Presumably, they were North Korean agents. After making sure that the mission was completed, they set off to land on a plane that flew to Dubai.

By that moment, the heavy object of the “draw” had already felt unimportant. The skin was itchy, it was getting harder to breathe. After a moment, the man lost consciousness, and when the ambulance arrived at the scene, he was already dead.

With him they found a DPRK diplomatic passport in the name of Kim Chol. The document turned out to be fake, and Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong-un's half-brother, was identified in its dead owner.

He was poisoned by the VX nerve gas, which is classified by the United Nations as a chemical weapon of mass destruction.

North Korea denies involvement in a daring murder, but all traces seem to lead to Pyongyang. But if this is true, why would Kim Jong-un kill his stepbrother?

Their father's love life, Kim Jong Il, was far from orderly. Two lawful wives, at least three mistresses - and five children. Kim Jong Nam was the child of his first lover, North Korean film actress Song Hye Rim, while Kim Jong Un's mother is the second lover, actress Ko Yeon Hee.

The dictator hid his mistresses and illegitimate sons from prying eyes. They lived in villas, isolated from the world and from each other. Despite the common father, Kim Jong Nam and Kim Jong-un are not personally acquainted.

Kim Jong Nam as the eldest son has long been considered the most likely successor to Kim Jong Il. However, in 2001, he was arrested while trying to enter Japan with a fake passport. The heir allegedly was heading to Disneyland.

Frames of arrest and expulsion of the Crown Prince scattered around the world. His father did not forgive him such a humiliation. He fell out of the holder of applicants for the throne and went into exile in China.

In any case, legend says so. But the story does not end there.

Photo: BBC Russian Service

The Japanese journalist Yoji Gomi, like no one else, succeeded in getting close to Kim Jong Nam. Several meetings in Beijing and Macau opened the veil over the biography of disgraced Kim.

"Kim Jong Nam was struck off the list of heirs even before the incident with Tokyo Disneyland," he said.

Disorder was observed at the end of 1980-x on the return of the eldest of the younger Kims home after training in a private school in Switzerland.

Nine years of life in Europe had an indelible impression on him.

In 1990, North Korea, having lost the help of the USSR, experienced a terrible famine. Up to three million people died from disease and malnutrition.

Gomi says that Kim Jong Nam suggested that his father rebuild the economy, start reforms following the example of China, and allow private entrepreneurship and market relations.

“Kim Jong Il was very angry. He put Kim Jong Nam with a choice: to change beliefs or place of residence, ”says Japanese journalist Gomi.

His American counterpart, Bradley Kay Martin, devoted a weighty volume to the Kim dynasty. He holds the same point of view.

“Kim Jong Nam was not written off because of Disneyland. In this family, everything is done under a false pretext, ”he says. “I don’t think my father felt humiliated. I think that Kim Jong Nam expressed political views and proposed changes that his father abhorred. "

Next on the list was the middle son Kim Jong Chol. But it seems that he was never taken seriously as a potential successor. And Kim Jong Il made a bid for his younger son, Kim Jong-un.

According to Martin, “the father chose him because of all his sons he was the meanest and nastiest.”

In other words, he had the highest chances to survive in the bitter struggle for power and save the dynasty.

And Kim Jr. was not slow to demonstrate ruthlessness. According to Gomi, shortly after his father died, Kim Jong Nam began to show concern.

“He suddenly felt in danger. Last time we contacted in January 2012. And then Kim Jong Nam told me: "My brother and the whole Kimov family will do something bad to me."

Martin is convinced that the DPRK leader is behind the murder of his brother. And he has his own theory about this.

“This is a continuation of the story with (Uncle) Jang Sung Taek,” he says. - Chan was accused of preparing a coup. We (Western media) paid no attention to this. Then Kim Jong-un took up his brother. There were reports that Chan went to China and said there, "Let's get rid of Kim Jong-un and put Kim Jong Nam in his place." Kim thought, "Uncle and brother conspired against me, and the Chinese are with them." There is logic in this. ”

But this is only a theory. True, it is hard to argue with his further conclusions.

“Now no one threatens his rule. There are no internal enemies left. ”

Kim Jong-un rule completely. But what does he want for his small impoverished country?

Goal

In the summer of 1998, Kim Jong-un came from Switzerland home for the holidays. He spent them in the giant residence of Kimov in the coastal Wonsan.

And now he returns to the capital by train. Nearby sits the court Japanese cook.

“Fujimoto, industrially we are even lagging behind other Asian countries,” says chef Kim Jong-un. "We still have the lights turned off every now and then."

He compared North Korea with China, Fujimoto recalls that trip in a book published in 2003 year.

“I hear China has done a lot. We have a population of 23 million. There are more than a billion in China. How do they supply them with electricity? And it must be challenging to produce food for a billion people. We must follow their example. ”

Such thoughts were then blasphemy.

Since 1955, the state ideology in North Korea has been the Juche - the doctrine of self-sufficiency, self-reliance. A giant memorial in the capital is dedicated to Juche. Attempts to ridicule the Juche are fraught with trouble.

In fact, the Juche is just a myth. North Korea is not only not self-sufficient - it has always depended on external assistance. For the first 40 years of its existence, she received it from Moscow. When this supply ran out, the planned economy collapsed and famine began in the country.

In the lean years, the sprouts of free trade and a market economy appeared - even if it was shadow and wild, but thanks to it people were able to survive.

The scale of this perebzhchik described in Seoul in 2012 year. South Korean companies in Kesona partially paid for the work of North Korean workers with South Korean goods.

Choco pie cakes were especially popular, to the extent that at some point they acquired the status of an alternative black market currency in North Korea.

Many were doing smuggling. A gang of smugglers bribed the North Korean border guards and, at night, dragged scrap metal and valuable minerals across the border, and brought back food, clothing, DVDs, drugs and pornography.

Chinese imports and smuggling are traded in the markets that breed in every city and town.

The shadow sector is flourishing. A whole class of entrepreneurs appeared: they say they are actively buying property in Pyongyang.

The economy of North Korea is growing. However, ideologically nothing has changed. There were no signals to change from above.

And here's 20 on April 2018, at the congress of the party Kim Jong-un, delivered a speech. It was called “Further acceleration of socialist construction in the framework of the new heightened stage of development of the revolution”

In it, Kim announced a freeze on nuclear and missile tests and ordered to focus on developing the economy. Many perceived the speech as a transition to the implementation of the idea voiced on that train - to follow the example of China.

Many experts are skeptical, but there are those who believe in the changes voiced.

Photo: Twitter Sarah Sanders

Human rocket

On the morning of July 4, the American spy satellite spotted activity at the North Korean airfield: a large rocket was brought to the mobile launcher. From the satellite it was clearly visible that while the rocket was being fueled, a man who was continuously smoking was moving around constantly.

Only one person with a cigarette could smoke with impunity at the rocket at the time of its refueling - Kim Jong-un.

After the launch, the rocket flew almost 3000 km and fell into the Sea of ​​Japan. Kim Jong-un shone with happiness, hugged the generals - and smoked.

Pyongyang claims that a new intercontinental missile, capable of reaching America, passed the test, and the launch was a gift to Donald Trump on July 4 - US Independence Day.

Despite the overwhelming cost of nuclear and missile programs, Kim Jong-un ordered to speed them up as soon as he came to power in 2011.

Kim Jong-un, who was present at the launch, announced that the DPRK "has accomplished a great historic task - it has completed the formation of its nuclear forces."

In the New Year's address of 2018, he proposed to send a delegation for the Winter Olympics to South Korea. Many saw this as a rejection of the policy of confrontation and a willingness to make contact.

However, some questions remain unanswered: why does Kim Jong-unn missiles capable of reaching the United States? What is he going to do with the nuclear arsenal?

The answer to these questions allows you to determine whether you believe in the readiness of the North Korean leader to “peaceful coexistence” with South Korea and to negotiate a winding down of the nuclear program or not.

At a meeting in the demilitarized zone, Kim Jong-un called for “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”, promised to abandon further tests and close the landfill. However, expert on nuclear weapons Duyon Kim believes that this does not at all indicate his readiness for unilateral disarmament.

“He declared North Korea a nuclear power,” she says. “That's what the advanced, responsible nuclear powers say. Usually after about six nuclear tests, further tests are meaningless. So Kim Jong-un earns points to participate in negotiations as the leader of a normal powerful state - on an equal footing with the United States. "

It is widely believed that the DPRK's nuclear program is defensive in nature: they say, the Kims saw how Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi ended up, and decided that the bomb was the only guarantee against "regime change" led by the United States.

Critics of this approach argue that neither Kim Jong-un nor his father needs ICBMs for protection. One of them is Professor Brian Myers of Tonso University in Busan. In a recent speech, he said:

“Our inability to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of this regime suggests that it has never played a vital role in ensuring the security of the DPRK. If North Korea without a nuclear arsenal were as vulnerable as Libya, it would have been bombed out at the latest in the 1998 year. ”

This did not happen for another reason: South Korea is extremely vulnerable to a counterattack from the north. Its capital, Seoul, is only 50 kilometers from the demilitarized zone and is easily covered by North Korean artillery fire.

Insult

But why does Kim need a nuclear arsenal, if not for defense?

According to Duyon Kim, Pyongyang seeks for a balance of forces in which the United States will not be able to come to the aid of South Korea, when and if the DPRK decides to "unite."

“Everything that North Korea says and does, publicly and on the sidelines, indicates that Pyongyang needs nuclear weapons for deterrence and for use in the case of a military option of uniting the peninsula,” said Duyon Kim.

Myers agrees that the DPRK made a bomb with an eye on the unification of the two Koreas, but not necessarily the force.

“North Korea needs to have weapons capable of threatening the United States in order to force both opponents to peace agreements. It has always been the main goal. ”

“The agreement with Washington should lead to the withdrawal of American troops from the peninsula. The next step should be the creation of a kind of confederation of North and South - an idea Pyongyang has been promoting since 1960. And only the most naive do not understand what will happen next, ”said Myers.

The idea that a backward North Korea could impose a union of the advanced South seems ridiculous. Nevertheless, Pyongyang is counting on it, says Bradley Kay Martin.

“I have always been convinced that unification is their number one goal. Many believe that they have given it up long ago, because they know that it is beyond their power. These people underestimate the power of propaganda. Under a dictatorship, people can be convinced of anything. ”

In its game with the West, the DPRK uses hostages: detained tourists and other representatives of Western countries. Americans are drawn into lengthy negotiations and are being forced to send high-ranking officials to personally negotiate their release. Ex-presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton traveled to the DPRK with similar missions.

American diplomat David Strobe accompanied Clinton on that trip.

“The North Koreans actually set a condition: we will release two American journalists only if Bill Clinton comes for them,” he recalls.

“It was obvious that they just needed a picture of Kim Jong-il and Clinton to show their own and others how they forced the Americans to bend over and enjoy it.”

The former president is good, but Kim wants more. Face to face meetings with the current president of the United States.

And he is closer than ever to this goal.

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