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 Day 19

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Dynasties in the Hermit Kingdom

From Il to Un

by CHARLES R. LARSON

The glorious event has finally happened: the ascension of still another brilliant constellation into the firmament–Kim Jong Un’s elevation to super-stardom, to savior of his people, blessed redeemer, colossus of the universe, the man of the hour, the man whose name is on everyone’s lips. Though to Western ears, “Un” sounds like the mark of a stutterer, the embarrassing pause when the right word won’t come out for the nervous speaker, never mind. In a country where repression of speech is habitual, “Un” may be a welcome sound, a pause for reflection, a guttural stop or a clearing of the throat.

So little is known of Un (also known as “Dear Follower”) other than his designation of Crown Prince that we asked well-known hacker, Lisbeth Salander, if she could use her considerable skills in helping to flesh out a more rounded portrait of the person who will shortly make diplomats around the world wet their pants. Grudgingly, Lisbeth agreed, tough she said that all she could provide was basic facts, leaving others to connect the dots and analyze Un’s true character and personality.

Birth, early life, education: Kim Jong Un was born in Pyongyang either in 1982 or 1983. Or 1981 or 1984. In an elaborate ceremony three days after his birth, he was given the name “Un,” commonly translated as “Ruler of the Universe.” At the age of six, he was made a four-star general of the Korean People’s Army, though he is currently ranked as a nine-star general. After his early military training, he attended an English-language School in Berne, Switzerland, until 1998, using the pseudonym, Kim Novak, the name he uses to this day for all his activities on the Internet. Un has two children of his own, Kim Jon Eek and Kim Jong Arf, both of whom are girls. Un is passionately interested in skiing and basketball, especially tall American athletes since his own height, like his father’s, is less than five feet.

Purchases on Ebay: Legos, Pokémon figures, Ken dolls, signed basketballs by Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan, and shoes with height-builders.

Amazon.com Books orders: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, Sarah Palin’s biography, Going Rogue, Lonely Planet’s Korea, and some years ago: all fifty-eight original Hardy Brothers novels and all titles published by American Girl. Recently, he ordered a Kindle, but Salander could not confirm if the e-book reader has yet to arrive.

Netflicks rentals: The Bridge over the River Kwai, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Pork Chop Hill, Mash, and The Manchurian Candidate. Un has also rented all twenty-two James Bond movies and all thirteen Pokémon films. Several of these films were never returned and have accrued substantial late fees.

Facebook sites: Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky, Anita Hill, Kim Novak, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Pokémon.

Recurrent Canadian pharmacy orders: Lipitor, Plavix, Nexium, Viagra, Zyprexa, Ritalin, Singular, Prevacid, Herceptin, Avandia, Ambien, Avastin, Seroquel, Diovan, Spiriva, Cialis, Coreg, Evista, Paxil, Botox, Cirpro, Epzicom, Toviaz, and Depends.

Note: This is classified information.

CHARLES R. LARSON is Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C.