RUMOURS are swirling that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s health is at an all-time low after he disappeared from public view around mid-April.
The tyrant, who is believed to be fighting for his life after reportedly undergoing heart surgery, took over from his father Kim Jong-il as Supreme Leader of the hermit nation in 2011.
Who is Kim Jong-un’s father Kim Jong-il?
Kim Jong-il served as leader of North Korea from July 8, 1994 until his death on December 17, 2011.
He took over control of the country on the death of his own father, Kim Il-sung, who founded North Korea and served as its first leader from 1948-1994.
Kim Jong-ill then continued the dynasty laid down by his father as the secretive nation’s second dictator but ruled for a much shorter time before he died from a suspected heart attack and was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un in 2011.
Born on February 16, 1941, there are conflicting reports as to the details of Kim Jong-il’s birth.
His official biography states that he was born in a secret military camp in Japanese-occupied Korea, but Soviet records say he was born close to Khabarovsk in Russia’s far east.
Kim Jong-il’s schooling is also a matter for debate, with North Korean records showing that he went to an elite school in Pyongyang.
However, some experts believe he was educated in China as a youngster as the Korean War raged in his home country.
Nevertheless, as a child, the young Kim Jong-il was heavily involved in youth politics and is believed to have been a member of the Korean Children’s Union and the Democratic Youth League of North Korea.
In 1974, Kim Jong-il had been designated his father’s successor, and by the early 1980s he had become the heir apparent to the leadership of North Korea.
He was gradually granted more military and civil roles throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, and by the time of his father’s death in 1994 was in charge of the North Korean armed forces.
Kim Jong-il presided over the North Korean famine during the 1990s, with some estimates placing the death toll as high as 3,500,00 people.
How many children did Kim Jong-il have?
The North Korean leader is believed to have been married twice to Hong-il Chon from 1966-1969 and Kim Young-sook from 1974-2011.
He is also believed to have had three long-term mistresses – Song Hye-rim, Ko Young-hui and Kim Ok.
Kim Jong-ill fathered five children from his relationships – Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-chul, Kim Sul-song, Kim Yo-jong and current leader Kim Jong-un.
Jong-un is Kim Jong-il’s fourth child and second, with Kim Yong-hui, believed to have been born in either 1982 or 1983.
How did Kim Jong-il die?
Rumours of poor health continued to plague Kim Jong-il as he aged, with some claiming he suffered from diabetes other reports about ill-health.
However, he conducted a number of public appearances in 2008 and 2009 which somewhat refuted the rumours, and in 2010 and 2011 made trips to China.
On December 17, 2011, reports emerged that Kim Jong-il had died from a suspected heart attack and was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un.