Kim Jong Un has a problem. Put aside the obvious issues like his weight or the bad haircut. He rules an isolated and impoverished nation, surrounded by his dad’s old advisors and generals, who know he is unqualified and that they could do a better job. So what is a young despot supposed to do to keep the champagne flowing and not lose his head in a coup? Fire up dad’s old money-making slush fund, Office 39 to pay everyone off and then maybe kill his uncle just to set an example.
Calling North Korea a depressing place is an understatement. The country is a Stalinist police state with a non-existent economy and massive poverty. Despite the bleak existence of ordinary citizens, Kim Jong Un and elite live the like kings. His wealth sits at $5 billion, and experts claim that in one year he spent $645 million on luxury goods. Kim Jong Un’s expensive tastes are well-known. He likes French cognac and Russian caviar and wears Patek Philippe watches, loves Air Jordan shoes and owns a jet and a fleet of armored Mercedes Benz limousines. To top it off, he has a private theme park and ski resort. Despite the goods and the parties with Dennis Rodman, life is not all joy for the young leader.
Dynastic regimes whether they are criminal or governmental all at one time face a big problem. After a few generations, the family devolves from hardened authoritarians to pampered playboys. For proof of this theory, Google the grandkids of mob boss John Gotti. This dilution applies to the Kim family. Kim Il Sung, the eternal father of the revolution, was an anti-Japanese Guerilla commander and held the country during the Korean War. His father, Kim Jong Il spent years building up an image as the only person who could succeed his father.
Kim Jung Un spent his youth in an elite Swiss boarding school and did not begin to step into the spotlight until Kim Jon Il was near death. To bolster his reputation his father appointed him to be a four-star general, without ever serving a day in uniform. This lack of revolutionary credentials did little to impress the generals and bureaucrats he would need to stay in power, so Kim Jung Un by all accounts bribed the leadership using money from a secret slush fund.