Kim Jong-un succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il, as the dictatorial leader of North Korea in 2011. Kim Jong-un is the third member of the family to lead North Korea; his grandfather Kim Il-sung took power in 1948 and passed it to Kim Jong-il in 1994. North Korea is a closed society, and the facts about Kim Jong-un are few and hard to confirm. He is the third son of Kim Jong-il and "attended a Swiss boarding school and reportedly admires basketball great Michael Jordan," the Washington Post reported in 2009. Kim attended that Swiss school, the International School of Berne, from about 1998-2000, and he later went to Kim Il-sung Military University in North Korea. By 2009 he had been named a four-star general in the North Korean military and vice-chairman of the Worker's Party Central Military Commission. A joint public appearance in 2010 seemed to confirm that Kim Jong-un was his father's favorite son and the leading candidate to be his heir. Kim Jong-il died suddenly in December of 2011, and a few days later Kim Jong-un was made leader of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, North Korea's ruling political party. He walked at the front of his father's funeral hearse and in eulogies was hailed as North Korea's new "supreme leader," although he is widely assumed to be supported by a ruling elite of older power brokers. In July of 2012, the official North Korean press reported that Kim Jong-un had married, naming his wife as "comrade Ri Sol-ju."
Kim Jong-Il had two sons older than Kim Jong-un: Kim Jong-nam (Jong-un’s half-brother, born about 1971) and Kim Jong-chol (Jong-un’s full brother, born about 1981). Kim Jong-un is the son of Kim Jong-il’s late third wife, Ko Yong Hi… Kim Jong-un apparently used a false name at the International School of Berne: Pak Chol (according to the Swiss magazine L’Hebdo) or Park Un (according to the Japanese paper Mainichi Shimbun)… His name is also spelled Kim Jong Un, Kim Jeong-un, Kim Jeung-eun and Kim Jong Woon… North Korean officials have claimed that Kim Jong-un was born on 8 January 1982 or 8 January 1983. However, the North Korean government has been known to alter the birthdates and birthplaces of its leaders to suit their own obscure designs.