Since taking over after the death of his (in)famous father Kim Jong Il in 2011, Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea, has been the subject of much speculation.
However, keeping with the secretive nature of the country’s leadership, there is much that is unknown about the young leader and the type of life he leads. Here are 10 things about Kim Jong Un that may surprise you.
He Likes the Finer Things in Life
According to a personal chef of Kim Jong Un’s father, the supreme leader smokes Yves Saint Laurent cigarettes, drinks Johnnie Walker whisky, and drives a Mercedes-Benz 600. He’s also a fan of Brazilian coffee and reportedly spent over $900,000 on imported beans in 2016 alone.
He Attended Private School in Switzerland
Although no one is quite sure how long he spent abroad, it’s confirmed that Kim Jong Un attended a private school in Switzerland for at least some of his teenage education. It is reported that he was always with an older student now thought to be a bodyguard and that he went by the name Pak Un. The leader was apparently shy with girls, average at his studies, and was already showing his love for the sport of basketball when he was in school.
His haircut is called “ambition”
It’s reported that Kim Jong Un has fashioned his signature haircut after his iconic grandfather, Kim Il Sung. Dubbed the “youth” or “ambition,” the style was reported to be popular among young men in North Korea when Kim first debuted it.
He’s Got a Thing for Basketball
Kim Jong Un has been fascinated with basketball since watching VHS tapes of the Chicago Bulls in their epic 1990s years. The tapes were given to Kim Jong Un by his father’s chef and sometimes nanny who got them from his sister in Japan.
Kim has a widely-publicized friendship with former Bulls player Dennis Rodman — who’s visited the country several times — and even has a collection of Nike sneakers, each valued at over $200 per pair.
No One Really Knows How Old He Is
The exact year of Kim Jong Un’s birth has not been publicized, but many agree that he was born in 1983. This means he took power when he was only 28 years old and is now just in his mid-30s. This makes him incredibly young for a world leader and also points to many decades of leadership in his future.
He Was Not First In Line For His Position
Kim Jong Un was not the first in line when it came to assuming leadership of North Korea. He is the youngest son of Kim Jong Il and his third wife Ko Yong-hui. According to the BBC, “He was initially not thought to be in the frame to take up his father’s mantle. Analysts focused instead on his older half-brother Kim Jong-nam and older full brother Kim Jong-chol. However Kim Jong-nam’s deportation from Japan in May 2001 and middle brother Kim Jong-chol’s reported ‘unmanliness’ improved his chances.” It became apparent to analysts that Kim Jong Il was grooming Kim Jong Un as his successor, and he was named leader upon his father’s death.
He’s Battled Weight Problems Since Taking Over
Due to his love of cheese (especially Swiss) and his smoking habit, Kim Jong Un has gotten increasingly unhealthy since taking over leadership duties. It’s estimated he has put on over 60 pounds and is putting his health at risk, though some wonder if he’s purposefully packing on the weight to more resemble his much-loved and emulated grandfather.
Despite Being the General of North Korea’s Army, He Has No Military Experience
Kim Jong Un is in control of the nation’s party and army — but he has no military experience. In fact, he’s the only general in the entire world who has no military background. Whereas his father, Kim Jong Il, had spent over 25 years preparing for his new role as supreme leader, Kim Jong Un was seemingly thrust into the spotlight with little preparation.
He’s Behind North Korea’s First All-Female Singing Group
In 2012, Kim Jong Un founded the all-female singing group Moranbong — also know as the Moran Hill Orchestra. They have often been photographed performing in military uniforms and glitzy mini-dresses and have a seemingly heavy Western influence. The group also tends to perform a number of songs written especially for their dear leader and have performed at a number of high profile events.
He Has a Secret Passion for Movies
The supreme leader’s DVD collection reportedly tops 22,000 and he gravitates toward horror movies and cartoons. This is similar to his father, Kim Jong Il, who was a huge film buff and even wrote numerous books about film.