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Despite being younger than his two older brothers, Kim Jong-un was appointed to continue the North Korean regime in 2011. For many years, it was believed that either Kim Jong-nam or Kim Jong-chul would have been the natural heir due to their age. But the hermit state’s previous leader Kim Jong-il made other arrangements after spotting character faults in his sons that he feared would lead the nation to ruin. So, Kim Jong-un was chosen to carry on the legacy of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung. Recently, many have speculated about the future successor of Kim Jong-un after it was believed the leader had died during heart surgery last month. At the time, rumours circulated that a surgeon with “shaking hands” had “botched” the operation and the highly secretive state was hiding it from the rest of the world. While the leader re-emerged at the opening ceremony of a fertiliser factory on May 1, some have doubted the authenticity of footage and photographs. Others have suggested that Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong may be being groomed to rule after she made a series of statements on behalf of the leader.
Kim Jong-un was first predicted to become leader of North Korea by Japanese sushi master Kenji Fujimoto, who served the first family for decades before he defected in 2001.
His whistleblower accounts gave rare insight into the hermit state – which notoriously remains isolated from the rest of the world and keeps knowledge of life inside the nation top secret.
Much of what we know of the Kim dynasty today, originates from Mr Fujimoto’s 2003 memoir ‘I was Kim Jong-il’s Cook’.
Prior to then, the only information about the extremely secretive state came from satellite photographs, government censored news reports and other defectors’ accounts.
Mr Fujimoto was the first to reveal Kim Jong-un’s date of birth – January 8, 1982 – along with other details that had previously been hidden from the world.
He was also the initial person to suggest that the youngster would rule North Korea and that he was the favourite son of then-leader Kim Jong-il.
Aside from his culinary duties, Mr Fujimoto had been the “playmate” of the future heir from the age of seven to 18 years old.
At first he was terrified by the boy who was referred to as “prince” – but over time the pair developed an unlikely friendship.
Mr Fujimoto recalled: “When he shook hands with me, he stared at me with a vicious look.
“I cannot forget the look in the Prince’s eyes. It’s as if he was thinking, ‘This guy is a despicable Japanese’.”
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He also revealed that Kim Jong-un’s two older brothers had fallen out of favour with their father.
Kim Jong-chul was allegedly ruled out of the succession line because he was considered “girlish” and too weak to lead the nation.
His other male sibling Kim Jong-nam was accused of having a “wayward lifestyle” and discarded from deliberations because of his alleged gambling habit.
The exact number of children Kim Jong-il had is unknown, but with his two eldest sons out of running that left Kim Jong-un and his two sisters Kim Yo-jong and Kim Sol-song.
In North Korea at that time it was less likely for a woman to become the nation’s leader due to beliefs in the state – which according to defectors is less liberal than other nations.
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Those notions would likely have been reinforced by previously leaders’ use of ‘Joy Brigade’ sex slaves and allegedly keeping mistresses across the nation.
These reasons cleared an easier path for Kim Jong-un to become future leader – but not only that, he was also described as having the same mentality of his father and grandfather.
While he studied in Switzerland his friends noted that he was fiercely competitive, longed to be in control and was calculated – personality traits that would have only advanced his succession claim further.
Mr Fujimoto observed the favouritism of North Korea’s elite and later tipped-off the world that the nation would soon be ruled by Kim Jong-un.
The prediction was published in his book in 2003, eight years before Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack and his prophecy came true.
Mr Fujimoto wrote: “Jong-un will be his father’s successor. Everyone used to say it. He looked and acted just like him.
“[He’s] a chip off the old block, a spitting image of his father in terms of face, body shape and personality.”
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