Kim Jong-un sees himself as the North Korean John F. Kennedy, book claims


One was a beacon of optimism in post-WWII America, the other presides over a brutal Communist regime set on building a nuclear weapon.

But despite the differences, Kim Jong-un believes he is living in his own version of Camelot, the youthful world of John F. Kennedy.

A new book claims that the leader of North Korea sees himself as Kennedy and his wife Ri Sol Ju, with her impeccable manners and fashionable wardrobe, as the parallel of Jackie Kennedy.

Kim ‘literally and figuratively groomed’ Ri so she would look the part of First Lady, writes former CIA analyst Jung H. Pak.

A new book claims that the leader of North Korea sees himself as Kennedy and his wife Ri Sol Ju as the parallel of Jackie Kennedy

Kim Jong-un believes he is living in his own version of Camelot, the youthful world of John F. Kennedy

Kim Jong-un believes he is living in his own version of Camelot, the youthful world of John F. Kennedy

She says that Kim made Ri a ‘walking advertisement’ for his image of North Korea as a modern, prosperous country with water parks and ski parks to reinforce that vision.

Becoming Kim Jong Un: A Former CIA Officer's Insights into North Korea's Enigmatic Young Dictator gives insight into the despot's mindset

Becoming Kim Jong Un: A Former CIA Officer’s Insights into North Korea’s Enigmatic Young Dictator gives insight into the despot’s mindset

Her book ‘Becoming Kim Jong-un: A Former CIA Officer’s Insights into North Korea’s Enigmatic Young Dictator’ is out next week at a time of intense speculation over Kim’s health.

Recent reports claimed that the 36-year-old was seriously ill after a heart procedure, speculation that was fanned when he failed to show up for the anniversary of North Korea’s founding father Kim Il Sung, Kim’s grandfather, on April 15.

Some reports have said that Kim Yo-jong, Kim’s sister, could be ready to take over from him if he dies.

But that glosses over the importance of Ri in Kim’s image of himself, writes Pak.

Having carried out dozens of bloody purges of his regime, Kim is only too aware of the jockeying for position within the North Korean elite.

So Ri’s elevation may be a ‘deliberate attempt to fend off any challengers’ to his succession.

The couple have at least one child – former NBA star Dennis Rodman held one baby of theirs on a trip to Pyongyang – but they are thought to have two more.

Even in his 30s Kim is ‘planning for the long haul and plotting a strategy for the duration of not just his life, but his children’s life as well’.

The comparison between the Kims and the Kennedys on the face of it seems unlikely.

The Kennedys are Massachusetts-based Democratic political dynasty while Kim’s grandfather was a nationalist guerrilla who founded the hermit nation after being hand picked by the Soviets.

Becoming Kim Jong-un says that the parallel lies in how both of them project the image they want their country to be.

In the case of North Korea, Kim wanted to construct an ‘alternate reality’ from the truth, which is that hundreds of thousands of people are locked in gulags and labor camps.

Kim 'literally and figuratively groomed' Ri so she would look the part of First Lady, writes former CIA analyst Jung H. Pak

Kim 'literally and figuratively groomed' Ri so she would look the part of First Lady, writes former CIA analyst Jung H. Pak

Kim ‘literally and figuratively groomed’ Ri so she would look the part of First Lady, writes former CIA analyst Jung H. Pak

While JFK was a beacon of optimism in post-WWII America, Kim presides over a brutal Communist regime set on building a nuclear weapon, but feels he and JFK are one and the same

While JFK was a beacon of optimism in post-WWII America, Kim presides over a brutal Communist regime set on building a nuclear weapon, but feels he and JFK are one and the same

Kim wanted to construct an 'alternate reality' from the truth, which is that hundreds of thousands of people are locked in gulags and labor camps. The book says that the parallel to the Kennedys lies in how both of them project the image they want their country to be

Kim wanted to construct an ‘alternate reality’ from the truth, which is that hundreds of thousands of people are locked in gulags and labor camps. The book says that the parallel to the Kennedys lies in how both of them project the image they want their country to be

Kim went on a building spree of amusement parks and luxury resorts to lure in Chinese tourists and distract from the repression and the poverty which makes up daily life in North Korea.

John Park, a North Korea expert at Harvard University, said: ‘There’s this idea of a North Korean dream and Kim Jong-un being the creator of this dream and his wife being essentially the face of this dream.

‘This type of dynamic is sort of an analogy for the future of North Korea overall’.

Nowhere is this more the case than Ri, who like Jackie Kennedy came from the elite of her society.

Ri was a former cheerleader and a member of the Unhasu Orchestra, an elite troupe handpicked by the state for their looks, loyalty and talent.

She was introduced to the world seven months after Kim took power in 2011 when she was seen with him at a concert.

From ‘Comrade Ri’ she soon became ‘Respected First Lady’ as she appeared by Kim’s side more often.

What was surprising was her Western clothes and her appearance which was a striking departure from past practices.

Ri went to Beijing to meet with President Xi in March 2018 and subsequent trips to China and Chinese and South Korean media were buzzing about her wardrobe

Ri went to Beijing to meet with President Xi in March 2018 and subsequent trips to China and Chinese and South Korean media were buzzing about her wardrobe 

Like Jackie Kennedy, Ri is a 'glamorous and devoted wife' and a 'glimpse of an emerging material and consumer culture which Kim seems to be actively promoting,' the book claims

Like Jackie Kennedy, Ri is a ‘glamorous and devoted wife’ and a ‘glimpse of an emerging material and consumer culture which Kim seems to be actively promoting,’ the book claims 

Kim went on a building spree of amusement parks and luxury resorts to lure in Chinese tourists and distract from the repression and the poverty which makes up daily life in North Korea

Kim went on a building spree of amusement parks and luxury resorts to lure in Chinese tourists and distract from the repression and the poverty which makes up daily life in North Korea 

Kim’s grandfather railed against make-up and ‘pretty dresses’ and under his rule it was illegal for women to wear trousers when not at work.

The book will be released next week at a time of intense speculation over Kim's health after reports the 36-year-old was seriously ill after a heart procedure

The book will be released next week at a time of intense speculation over Kim’s health after reports the 36-year-old was seriously ill after a heart procedure

Ri by contrast wore on her first appearance a bright green blouse with a fitted skirt and peep toe black pumps – the Huffington Post gushed: ‘She is stylist indeed!’

On another occasion watching a flight contest with officers of the Korean People’s Air Force her hair was partly rolled back, her lipstick was a tasteful muted pink shade and she was wearing a blue dress and three quarter length suit with a sparkly brooch.

In a sea of men wearing suits her colorful attire was a ‘dramatic contrast’.

According to Pak, Ri was ‘channeling Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’ and ‘evoking the storied elegance of Jackie Kennedy’.

Kim was ‘literally and figuratively grooming her to be Pyongang’s First Lady’, the book says.

Ri’s diplomatic debut was on March 5, 2018 hosting the South Korean delegation to set up the first inter-Korean summit which would occur a month later.

South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong committed a major faux pas over dinner when he asked Kim: ‘Low about you stopped smoking? It’s bad for your health

The table froze as no one criticized Kim but Ri clapped her hands and said: ‘I always ask him to quit smoking but he won’t listen to me’.

She defused the tension immediately and both parties moved on.

Ri went to Beijing to meet with President Xi in March 2018 and subsequent trips to China.

The author writes that Ri is somebody who 'provides the regime with a softer side, a thin veneer of style and good humor to mask the brutality, starvation and deprivation endured by the people'

The author writes that Ri is somebody who ‘provides the regime with a softer side, a thin veneer of style and good humor to mask the brutality, starvation and deprivation endured by the people’

Chinese and South Korean media were ablaze about her outfit and Chinese Internet users fawned over her so much the Communist party censored them because they were making President Xi’s wife look bad.

Ri was with her husband for the inter-Korean summit the following month which laid the groundwork for Kim’s historic meeting with Donald Trump, a sign of how vital she is to her husband.

Pak writes that Kim sees Ri as ‘another component of his power’ and she has ‘personified the charm in the North Korean charm offensive’.

Ri is somebody who ‘provides the regime with a softer side, a thin veneer of style and good humor to mask the brutality, starvation and deprivation endured by the people’

Like Jackie Kennedy, Ri is a ‘glamorous and devoted wife’ and a ‘glimpse of an emerging material and consumer culture which Kim seems to be actively promoting’.

Through her he has an ‘opportunity to channel the consumerist energies of the North Korean people’, the book says.

In that sense at least, she is more like Jackie Kennedy than you might think.

 

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