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The Future Hermit King Of The Hermit Kingdom?

Time has a pretty good piece about Kim Jong Un, the son Kim Jong Il has apparently tapped as his successor:

In the 1990s Jong Un studied, as did one of his older brothers, at the International School of Berne, in Switzerland, using a pseudonym to hide his identity as a member of North Korea's ruling family. But several North Korea watchers in Seoul dispute that, and believe Jong Un has never been outside North Korea. From 2002 to 2007 he attended the Kim Il Sung military academy in Pyongyang. He's said to be about 5 ft. 9 in. (175 cm) tall, is overweight (nearly 200 lb., or 90 kg) and may suffer from diabetes, according to South Korean press reports.

Jong Un, according to Fujimoto's book, is his father's favorite in part because, more so than the two other male Kim offspring, he has a take-charge personality. Kim regards Jong Chul, Jong Un's older brother, as being "girlish." And their older half brother, Kim Jong Nam, appears to be a flake, having been detained and deported in Japan in 2001 after traveling on a phony passport and claiming he wanted to visit Disneyland. Jong Un, Fujimoto writes, is different. He and his brother Jong Chul enjoyed playing basketball — but after the games, Jong Chul would just say goodbye to their friends and leave. Jong Un would then gather up his teammates and, like a coach, analyze the game they just played: "You should have passed the ball to this guy, you should have shot it then." According to various, usually unsourced South Korean press reports since Fujimoto's book came out, Jong Un is said to be "ambitious" and a "take-no-prisoners" type — again, in contrast to his older brothers.

There's also some interesting reporting on how Chang Sung Taek, Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law (whom Kim put under house arrest a few years back), is now effectively running things in Pyongyang and has been mentoring Kim Jong Un, "acting as a sort of regent to the Prince." It reminds me a bit of the predicament the Hashemites were facing in Jordan a few years back when there was a big question about who would succeed King Hussein: his brother or his son. Except, this being North Korea, it's infinitely nuttier.

 --Jason Zengerle