He is the baby-faced, basketball-mad leader of North Korea – said to have had plastic surgery to look more like his illustrious grandfather. Fond of funfairs and theme parks, he recently arranged the import of salt water for a new attraction so the dolphins could frolic more freely, at a time when many of his people have no access to fresh drinking water.
Last year he staged a Mickey Mouse pageant, complete with mini-skirted young women playing violins in front of an enormous screen showing the film Rocky 1V. With his ‘buzz-cut’ hairstyle, he has become something of a style icon for young male followers of the party.
None of this would be alarming behaviour in a normal young playboy. But Kim Jong Un, ‘the great successor to the revolutionary cause’, has a finger on the button that could start a new war with South Korea and the US. If China came in, that would be World War III.
North Korea has previously declared that it is abrogating the 1953 Armistice, as it did last week. It is always tearing up agreements. Yet in doing so with an untried captain at the helm, the worry is greater. Even China is alarmed at the prospect of a Supreme Leader of North Korea who has scant regard for diplomacy and international relations and a battery of nuclear weapons in his toybox.
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Historically, the risk might appear small. Perhaps this new leader is merely full of bluster; making grandiose threats to force the US and South Korea to back off from military exercises.
But when Kim Jong Un last week goaded South Korea by scrapping all non-aggression pacts – after a fragile peace that has existed for nearly 60 years – that nation responded with similarly aggressive language, and a threat that in the event of any action from North Korea it would ensure…