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Critical Thinking Example: Description of Kim Jong-un

5 pages
1252 words
Middlebury College
Type of paper: 
Critical thinking
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Despite the fact that much of the life of Kim Jong-un is unknown to the Western media, it is presumed that he was born in North Korea to Ko Young-hee an opera singer and Kim Jong-II from whom Kim Jong-un inherited the leadership mantle. Kim is thought to have been schooled in Switzerland before he returned to Pyongyang to attend a military academy which was in his grandfather's name. Although Kim Jon-un was the youngest amongst his siblings, his father chose him as the rightful heir and successor to the dictatorial leadership that has been in the family lineage since the nations independence. Indeed, Kim has propagated his father's military-first policies where armament has served as a nerve-center for spearheading his ideologies (Bowden, 2015). Experts have termed North Korea as engaging its apparent adversaries in a provocative cycle such as conducting nuclear tests and launching missiles following offers and charm offensives for dialogues. Moreover, Kim-Jong-un is perceived as being obsessed with power and the reverence he is accorded as a Supreme Leader to the extent he wishes to impose himself as a regional leader.

Kim Jong-uns leadership ideologies are seemingly drawn from North Korea's widespread belief in the archaic propaganda and Communist imagery which is characterized by dreaded gulags and political purges. Initially, North Korea was governed as a monarch, and after the nation's liberation by the Soviet Union, Kim's grandfather took the role of the monarch. Nonetheless, the current regime is based on a vague nationalist concept dubbed Juche which has been described by pundits as an effort geared towards rationalizing radical ethno-nationalism. This implies that the belief of the North Koreans racial superiority defines who they are coupled with the mainstream support which is predominantly derived from the appeal of the official myth that the nation is always under constant threat (Bowden, 2015). North Korea's ruling party has always cited the U.S and Japan as its arch-nemesis who are poised to attack at any time. The word media has reveled in the speculation and mystery of information obtained from the largely secretive North Korean state which has significantly contributed to Kim's infamous global headlines. Perhaps Kims most conspicuous personality trait is his impulsivity which has been demonstrated in his erratic decision making. For instance, he has eliminated leaders who are deemed as a threat to his administration such as Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho who was chief of the general staff of the Korean Peoples Army and a key figure in the national Workers Party. Additionally, Kim politically purged his uncle Jang on grounds disloyalty and resistance to the Supreme Leaders notions and unconfirmed reports have it that Jang was publicly flogged before being executed. Indeed, such ostensibly irrational decisions were highlights of sending a message to individuals who would openly challenge Kim Jong-uns dictatorial leadership.

Kim Jon-uns Big Five Personality Traits

The personality profiles of dictatorial leaders are based on informants' reports which yield tremendous insight into the mental health status of such individuals. Additionally, the Big Five Theory is the most widely accepted framework of personality traits owing to the certification of the validity and reliability of the tool on an international level. One of the fundamental components of the Big Five is the openness to experience where Kim Jon-un scores low. This may be attributed to the fact that he continues to perpetuate the obsolete dictatorial rule which seems redundant in the contemporary society. Equally important is the fact that Kim attempts to exude the appeal of a military strategist yet his approach lacks in innovation including the invulnerability of his regime owing to his secretive nature and proliferation of propaganda which are the core principles of his governance. Thus, one may conclude that Kim lacks in the willingness to try new things as he has purposed to imitate his father's dictatorial legacy amid international pressure. Conscientiousness refers to the aspect of being able to regulate one's impulses and gravitate towards socially acceptable behaviors that spearhead objective behavior (Positive Psychology Program, 2017). On this scale, Kim scores low because his governance has been predominantly characterized by economic downturns and atrocities bordering on human rights violations. Additionally, Kim has been quick to assert his gratification by defying the originally agreed upon rules of ceasing the production of nuclear weaponry. Kim may be defined as an introvert judging from his desire to lead a reclusive life ever since he was a child. Further, he has shied away from paying state visits to other world leaders perhaps due to his controversial approach to leadership as his diplomatic ties are mostly limited to China which sustains the economy of North Korea. Regarding agreeableness, Kim Jon-un scores low owing to his severed ties with most nations which have culminated in the imposition of international trade bans on North Korea. Furthermore, world leaders perceive North Korea as a ticking time bomb ordinarily due to their heavy investments in nuclear arms and their military-first policy which threatens world peace (BBC News, 2017). Kim Jon-Un scores highly on the neuroticism scale in the sense that he is hell-bent on being the locus of control. One may argue that most of the decisions undertaken by the Supreme Leader are seemingly irrational and they emanate from his self-consciousness and anxious moments. For instance, the election of President Donald Trump has re-ignited the long-standing feud between the USA and North Korea since Kim views Trump's administration as being pragmatic, unlike the Obama administration which employed a subtle approach.

Kim Jon-uns Public Popularity

Kim Jon-un may be primarily regarded as popular leader' by default since the legislative provisions compel North Korean citizens to conform to the decisions made by the Supreme Leader. Additionally, Kim has deviated from the norm as he made the unprecedented decision to commit resources to improving the economic welfare of North Koreans, unlike the previous dynasties. Observers argue that the private education that Kim was exposed in Switzerland has been the catalyst behind the decision to reinvest some of the nation's cash in improving the citizen's standards of living. Kim has spearheaded social amenity projects such as a colored waterpark in the capital, new schools, hospitals and health fitness centers. Moreover, Kim Jon-un has the vision of transforming North Korea into a tourist destination through the development of hotels and skiing parks. Regarding the economy, Kim dropped hints during his early phase of his leadership where he declared the intention to introduce similar liberalization measures which have transformed its neighbor China into an economic powerhouse (Robertson, 2017). Equally important is the fact that Kim has embraced the image of a public figure, unlike his predecessors who preferred leading an antisocial regime. Additionally, Kim is thought to have a deep voice, and he is a capable public speaker, and his demeanor is more appealing to the citizens as he shakes peoples hands and even smiles in public. Kims public actions seem to mimic the dawn of a new era where the Supreme Leader is attempting to incorporate contemporary measures in his leadership thus attracting a sense of enigma which makes him popular amongst North Koreans.



BBC News. (2017). Profile: North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un. Retrieved from:

Bowden, M. (2015). Understanding Kim Jon-un the Worlds Most Enigmatic and Unpredictable Dictator. Retrieved from: Psychology Program. (2017). The Big Five Personality Theory: The 5 Model Factor Explained. Retrieved from:

Robertson, I.H. (2013). The North Korean Dictator is Behaving Rationally. Retrieved from:


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