How Kim Jong Un Took Power in North Korea—and Held It

How Kim Jong Un Took Power in North Korea—and Held It
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country’s military, Pyongyang, North Korea, Feb. 8, 2018 (Korean Central News Agency photo via AP).

When North Korea’s young dictator, Kim Jong Un, came to power in 2012, many observers thought his days at the top would be numbered. Yet despite numerous predictions of an imminent coup or even regime collapse, Kim defied all odds by ruthlessly purging potential rivals and consolidating power. Now, he sits securely atop one of the most reclusive and repressive governments in the world.

Few official details are available about Kim’s life, but a new book aims to peel back the layers of secrecy around him. In “The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un,” Anna Fifield uses interviews with relatives and former associates, as well as anyone who may have come into contact with Kim, to piece together a portrait of the young dictator. Fifield, who is currently The Washington Post’s Beijing bureau chief, joins WPR’s associate editor, Elliot Waldman, for a conversation about her book.

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Relevant Articles on WPR:
Is North Korea’s Regime Really in Peril?
Do Dire Economic Conditions in North Korea Threaten Kim’s Legitimacy?
At a Mostly Symbolic Summit, Putin and Kim Play the Long Game
There Are Still No Easy Answers to North Korea’s Nukes

Trend Lines was produced and edited this week by Andrew Green. You can follow him on Twitter at @_andrew_green.

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