Who Will Succeed Kim Jong Il?
Kim Jong Un. Public Domain.
Kim Jong Il, the leader of North Korea, reportedly died Dec. 17, at the age of 69. Who will replace him in North Korea's government?
Kim Jong Un, Jong Il's third and youngest son, has been the percived heir to the leadership of North Korea since late 2010, when his father's health began to fade. Also known as Kim Jong Woon, Kim Jung Woon and Pak Un, he was announced as the "Great Successor" by North Korean state television shortly following his father's death.
Very little is known about Jong Un. North Korean officials list his date of birth as Jan. 8, 1984, but there is speculation that he was actually born in 1983.
He attended school at the International School of Berne, in Switzerland, where classmates described him as shy, though particularly competitive, especially in basketball and other sports. He is said to have studied computer science privately in Korea.
He is a Daejang in the Korean People's Army, a military rank equivalent to that of a General in the United States Army. There are rumors that he is married, but nothing yet has been confirmed.
Many analysts have noted that it will be interesting to see how Jong Un will lead, whether his European education and fondness for certain aspects of American culture will lead North Korea in a different direction than it followed under his father. Others have suggested that, because of Jong Un's youth and inexperience, his uncle, Chang Sung Taek, could act as regent.
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