Kim Jong-un[b][c] (/ˌkɪm dʒɒŋˈʊn, -ˈuːn/; Korean: 김정은, Korean: [kim.dzɔŋ.ɯn];[d] born 8 January 1983) is a North Korean politician who has been Supreme Leader of North Korea since 2011 and the leader of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) since 2012.[e] He is a son of Kim Jong-il, who was North Korea‘s second supreme leader from 1994 to 2011, and Ko Yong-hui. He is a grandson of Kim Il-sung (who was the founder and first supreme leader of North Korea from its establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994) and the first leader of North Korea to have been born in the country after its founding in 1948.
From late 2010, Kim was viewed as successor to the leadership of North Korea. Following his father’s death in December 2011, state television announced Kim as the “Great Successor”. Kim holds the titles of General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, and President of the State Affairs Commission. He is also a member of the Presidium of the Politburo of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the highest decision-making body. In July 2012, Kim was promoted to the highest rank of Marshal in the Korean People’s Army, consolidating his position as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. North Korean state media often refer to him as “Respected Comrade Kim Jong-un” or “Marshal Kim Jong-un”. He has promoted the policy of byungjin, similar to Kim Il-sung’s policy from the 1960s, referring to the simultaneous development of both the economy and the country’s nuclear weapons program.
Kim rules North Korea as a totalitarian dictatorship, and his leadership has followed the same cult of personality as his grandfather and father. In 2014, a landmark United Nations Human Rights Council report suggested that Kim could be put on trial for crimes against humanity. He has ordered the purge or execution of several North Korean officials; he is also widely believed to have ordered the 2017 assassination of his half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, in Malaysia. He has presided over an expansion of the consumer economy, construction projects and tourist attractions. Kim also expanded North Korea’s nuclear program which led to heightened tensions with the United States and South Korea. In 2018 and 2019, Kim took part in summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump. He has claimed success in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic in North Korea, although many experts doubt the country has had no cases altogether.