KCNA via Reuters file
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) watches a military exercise of the Korean People's Army in an undisclosed location, in this undated picture recently released by the official Korean News Agency KCNA.
The current ruler of nuclear-armed North Korea was a laggard student who frequently skipped class when he was attending a school in Switzerland in the 1990s, according to the Daily Record news site.
The UK publication, citing leaked documents, reported that the Kim Jong Un, 29, who took the helm of the isolated totalitarian country upon the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in December, missed 75 days of school his first year of school at the International School in Berne.
Kim missed 105 days his second year at the elite private school, where he registered under a pseudonym as the son of a North Korean diplomat. It was not clear from the report which grade levels he was in at the time, but he would have been in his mid-teens.
An unnamed source who said he was a school friend of Kim said that Pak Un — as Kim was known there — often did not show up at school until afternoon, preferring instead to play video games or watch basketball on television.
His grades seemed to suffer accordingly. According to the report, he failed science and got minimum pass grades in English and German, the main language used in the Swiss capital of Bern, but did well in music and technical studies.
Kim Jong Un was enrolled in the Kim Il Sung Military University in Pyongyang from 2002 to 2007, most analysts agree.
Kim Jong Un, now dubbed the "great successor," is the third-generation North Korean leader in his family, though virtually nothing was known about him before he was appointed to a set of powerful positions in 2011. His father, Kim Jong Il, came to power in a similar fashion, moving into the top military, government and party roles left by his father, Kim Il Sung, a communist guerrilla fighter who is considered the father of the country.
North Korea analysts continue to puzzle over the newest Kim in charge. It remains unclear how much support he has within the military, and whether he has any inclination toward reform — seen as essential to restarting the country’s moribund economy and breaking the country’s isolation.
The United States, South Korea and other allies were discouraged by Pyongyang’s recent insistence that it soon will launch a rocket — purportedly to put a satellite in orbit — but widely viewed as a pretext for a long-range missile test.
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