Kim Jong Un — supreme leader of a secretive, isolationist nation with its very own nuclear arsenal — and Dennis Rodman — one-time madman of the NBA— are besties. You couldn’t make this up. It’s not only one of history’s most oddball relationships, it’s also a source of international intelligence. It is widely acknowledged that any details the West knows about North Korea’s leader come from either Dennis Rodman or a Japanese sushi chef who once worked for the Marshal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Great Successor, the Sun of the 21st Century, all rolled up in the person of one Kim Jong Un.
His friendship with the former NBA great began with young Kim Jong Un’s fascination for the Chicago Bulls during the golden Michael Jordan era between 1995 and 1998. Their mutual admiration society has continued despite a barrage of criticism from American politicians and journalists who decry any friendly relationship with a communist dictatorship known for its human rights violations.
Recently, the former NBA star has admitted in interviews that Kim Jong Un is “probably a madman,” although he also insists the North Korean leader is quite childlike, and that he doesn’t want war. The North Korean leader’s personal life is so secretive we’re not even sure of his wife’s real name. From his habits to his personality quirks, what details we do know about, we owe to Dennis Rodman and his strange relationship with Kim Jong Un.
20 Dennis Knows His Real Birthdate
One of the basic facts American intelligence can’t seem to pin down is Kim Jong Un’s real year of birth, and obviously, from that, his age.
We know his birthday is on January 8, but the year is believed to be 1982, 1983, or 1984.
The year 1982 may be a fabrication of state-sponsored national myth-making. North Korea was founded by Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung. He was born in 1912. His son, Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, was actually born in 1941, but the history books were fudged to place his birth in 1942 instead. It was seen as suspicious. Ditto 1982. The South Koreans apparently think he was born in 1984. Dennis, however, insists it was 1983. We’re going with Rodman.
19 Kim Jong Un Laughs At Healthy Living
While publicly, and in state PSAs, Kim Jong Un encourages healthy living, in private, he is a man who has spent $37 million importing tobacco and tobacco products, and is known to chain smoke. He thinks healthy living is some kind of Western nonsense propaganda, and is known for his big appetite. He’s certainly gained weight under the public eye.
At about 35 years of age, Kim Jong Un is already showing signs of heart disease and perhaps also diabetes —
the kind of health issues that led to his father’s passing. Health problems may yet cut the North Korean leader’s lifetime term shorter than anticipated.
18 Kim Jong Un Loves Ri Sol-Ju
Kim Jong Un married his wife, Ri Sol-ju — at least, we’re told that is her name – in 2009. No one knows much about her or her background, including her date of birth.
She’s believed to come from one of North Korea’s prominent families, and some say she has a Ph.D. in a scientific field. Others say she is actually North Korean singer Hyon Song-wol, who had a hit with her song, “Excellent Horse-Like Lady.”
Dennis has actually met Ri Sol-ju and Kim’s children, and what we do know is that Kim seems to genuinely love his wife. That comes in contrast to the way his father Kim Jong Il conducted his affairs – as in, many affairs and mistresses alongside his marriage to his wife.
17 Dennis Confirms Kim Jong Un’s Daughter
It is actually North Korean tradition that a leader’s children should not be formally introduced to the public until they are adults. Hopefully, it gives them some semblance of a normal life. It would, that is, in a normal kind of household.
Through the South Korean intelligence agency, American intelligence believed that Kim Jong Un and his wife had a daughter in 2012, calling her Kim Ju-rae. That fact was confirmed by Dennis Rodman after his visit to the secretive nation in 2013.
It is believed that the family includes three children in all, a fact that was also confirmed by Rodman, who says he actually held the new baby girl during his stay.
16 Kim Jong Un’s Cribs
For the leader of a nation that is isolated by trade sanctions, Kim Jong Un sure likes to live large. We’re just sayin’. His official residence in Pyongyang is called the Ryongsang Residence, aka the Central Luxury Mansion. It covers more than 4.5 square miles and includes an athletics field, Olympic-size swimming pool and a giant waterslide. In 2013, Rodman visited and came back telling the world about Kim Jong Un’s luxurious holiday complex in Wonsan.
Rodman describes a man who is seldom alone. “He's got 50 to 60 people around him all the time — just normal people, drinking cocktails and laughing the whole time."
The former Chicago Bull called it a “seven-star party” that includes a 200-foot pool yacht and Kim Jong Un’s own amusement park with rides.
15 He’s A Secret Clothes Freak
When making his many public appearances, Kim Jong Un likes to wear overalls in plain black or white, shapeless smocks, or quasi-military gear. The spartan clothes help to cultivate the humble public image of a leader of the people. It’s all part of the communist party propaganda machine. In private, however, Kim Jong Un is known for his very expensive taste in clothes.
He is known to wear tailored suits on occasion, but his favorite seems to be track suits and Nike Air Jordans. He’s said to have a massive collection of Nike sneakers that includes virtually all the current models.
He also apparently likes fine watches. In 2014, a report claimed he spent a whopping $8.2 million just on watches alone. It’s no surprise that spending on luxury items more than doubled ever since Kim Jong Un took over the reins of the country, shooting from about $300 million to about $650 million by 2012, after only one year of his rule.
14 Kim Knows How To Throw A Party
Some of what the world knows about Kim Jong Un comes from his expenditures, since luxury items must be imported into the country. Dennis Rodman tells stories about the wild parties and cocktails made of only the finest liquor in Kim Jong Un’s vacation playground, and other sources confirm that the Comrade Kim imports about $1 million worth of booze each year. His drink of choice was said to be French wines, and he even boasted once that he had drunk 10 bottles of Bordeaux in a single meal. But, he is said to have switched to vodka, spending nearly $200K a year on it and other spirits personally. On a side note, in November 2017, the North Korean government banned any gatherings that involve drinking alcohol and singing. No fun for the common man.
13 Kim’s Cheese Of Choice
Kim Jong Un was sent to a boarding school in Switzerland during his youth. That’s where he developed a taste for Swiss goodies like chocolate, and most especially, cheese. Emmental, to be exact, or genuine Swiss cheese. He loves it so much that he is said to consume it in massive quantities.
Too much cheese and his weight gain were blamed for a cyst that developed on his ankle in 2012, causing a limp and requiring surgery.
He imported it at great cost and he once tried to send a crew of his personal chefs to the National Dairy Industry College in France in order to learn how to make the cheese the authentic way. It’s his cheese consumption that many blame as the primary culprit behind his weight gain estimated at nearly 100 pounds between 2012 and 2016, and a slew of health problems from it.
12 Movies And Western Culture
These days, as leader of a communist state, Kim Jong Un’s official statements are often critical of the excesses of Western culture. He has made public statements to specifically target certain Hollywood movies, notably The Interview, the James Franco-Seth Rogan comedy in which the North Korean leader plays a role.
However, in private, Kim Jong Un is a huge fan of Western movies, especially action flicks. He was socially awkward in school, and tended to spend a lot of time alone watching movies or playing combat games on his Sony PlayStation.
Those are habits he’s said to continue today. In fact, he inherited a huge Hollywood movie collection from dad Kim Jong Il.
11 Alias Chol-Pak/Pak Un
Little is known about Kim Jong Un’s upbringing, but we do know where he went to school from about his middle school years. The word is that Kim Jong Un attended a private English language school in Gümligen, Switzerland under the assumed name of Chol-pak or Pak-chol from 1993 to 1998. Then, he went to a secondary school called Liebefeld Steinhölzli Schule under the name Pak Un or Un-Pak. He attended Liebefeld until 2000, when he abruptly left from one semester to another, leaving the school and other students puzzled. He was registered as the son of an embassy employee, but apparently he did brag to at least one of his fellow students that he was son of the leader of North Korea.
10 Kim Does Not Tolerate Cold Pasta
While Kim Jong Un was going to school in Switzerland, he lived in an apartment at the Korean Embassy.
One evening, the embassy chef served Kim and a friend lukewarm pasta, and he got a tongue lashing from the young student who would one day become the nation’s ruler.
More recently, as an adult, Kim Jong Un is said to have had an aide executed because he didn’t seem attentive enough at a meeting, and a defector to South Korea claims to have seen an 11-piece music ensemble blown up by anti-aircraft guns. We can only guess that they played something he didn’t like. Dennis Rodman says Kim surrounds himself with smiling people — and, no doubt, chefs who know how to cook spaghetti.
9 Kim Jong Un Is No Intellectual Giant
Dennis has referred to Kim Jong Un as a “madman,” but he hasn’t come out to specifically talk about his intellectual abilities. It’s probably a wise move if Rodman ever wants to go back. One of the drawbacks to knowing you will be the supreme leader of your country from the moment you are born is that you probably don’t push yourself the way you should. When Kim Jong Un was attending school in Switzerland, he was set back two grades to compensate for his lack of proficiency in either German or English.
Even at a lower grade, however, he managed to flunk natural sciences and barely passed most of his other classes.
He also missed nearly 200 days of school in two years. Kim, it is reported, didn’t really care about academic achievement anyway.
8 Expensive Taste
Kim Jong Un is said to drink a whole bottle of Cristal champagne by himself at meals. He owns massive yachts and a fleet of bullet-proof Mercedes Benz limousines.
According to Dennis Rodman, he lives the lifestyle of a mega-rich man — yet, he is ruler of a country that is poor and cut off from international trade. So where does he get the cash from?
Various other governments have accused him of nefarious dealings such as illegal weapons and drug sales, and even trading in counterfeit money, Viagra, and endangered animal species. The money is also said to fund North Korea’s nuclear missile program. It is supposedly run by a super secret government department called Room 39, named Central Committee Bureau 39 of the Korean Workers' Party. It was initiated by his grandfather.
7 He’s Obsessed With The 1980s And 1990s
In public, he’s the austere communist leader. In private, Dennis Rodman talks about Kim’s fascination for everything 1980s and 1990s — especially Western culture. Maybe Kim Jong Un, like many people, is just attached to the pop-culture icons that remind him of his childhood and youth.
At any rate, Kim is reported to stick entirely to culture from that era. His musical favorites include Michael Jackson and Madonna.
His nostalgic fixation is also the root of his love for the Chicago Bulls, who had their golden years of consecutive championships during that era. It began in his school days, and according to Dennis, continues today.
6 Kim’s Health Problems
Kim Jong Un may not believe in those annoying rules for healthy living, but it seems like they believe in him. He has withdrawn from the public for periods of time during which Western analysts believe he was receiving treatment for various illnesses.
Many observers believe that "the great sun of the 21st century" suffers from gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis which can cause painful joints.
Gout is linked to factors like obesity and a diet high in red meat and alcohol. Kim is also an avid sports car racer, and it is thought that he has been injured more than once in accidents related to the sport.
5 Kim Jokes About Being Dumb
With no one to tell you when you might be wrong, misguided, or just not as funny as you think, there’s a large margin for making something of a fool of yourself and you’ll never know it. We’re not sure which one is worse.
When it comes to Kim Jong Un, he apparently has a habit of joking around with his top officials. He likes to joke that he is inexperienced, young, and doesn’t know anything.
We bet those officials laugh really hard, but also, they do it in such a way that as to assure him they’re laughing because it’s so ridiculous, Supreme Leader, sir, the thought of you being so young and inexperienced is hilarious. Kim is apparently convinced that he’s quite the comedian.
4 He’s Insecure
Some would say that Kim Jong Un’s obsession with nuclear missiles was an over compensation for feelings of inadequacy. To that, we can add observations from his former fellow students in Switzerland, who say he was socially awkward and spent most of his time alone in his room playing Nintendo or PlayStation and watching basketball on TV.
It seems like the ruler of North Korea is somewhat insecure. It’s not that hard to imagine. He spent a childhood isolated from other people and probably had few friends. Nowadays, he has a lot of smiling faces around him and he’d have to at least doubt their sincerity.
It’s not easy being Dear Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army.
3 Karaoke And TV Tunes
Dennis Rodman has seen the North Korean leader when he’s feeling sociable, and his habits — despite the official party line against the West — all seem to revolve around American pop culture. While Dennis was visiting, Kim broke out the karaoke, but with that Supreme Leader difference.
“He has this 13-piece girls band with violins. He gets a mic and they play the whole time. He loves the Doors and Jimi Hendrix. Oldies.
When I first went, the live band only played two songs for four hours: the theme songs from Rocky and Dallas.” Girl bands and TV theme songs — who could have guessed?
2 He Likes Table Tennis
When he’s not eating cheese or busting out 1980s karaoke, it turns out Kim Jong Un has hobbies. You know, just like us.
“When he’s around his people, he’s just like anybody else,” Rodman said in an interview after his last visit. “He jokes and loves playing basketball, table tennis, pool.”'
He plays with the most expensive table tennis gear, naturally. What we’re noticing, when it comes to all we know about Kim Jong Un and his habits, is a lack of things like studying foreign policy or consulting with his ministers or any of that other stuff you might imagine a supreme leader would do.
1 He Doesn’t Want War. Really.
We’ve lost count of how many missiles and missile tests North Korea has fired off since Kim Jong Un took the helm of the nation. There have even been broadcasts on North Korean TV that show what would happen if North Korea bombed and destroyed the United States with nuclear missiles.
So, it sure comes as a surprise that Dennis Rodman insists Kim doesn’t want war at all. Dennis says that Kim wants to “rewrite the peace treaty” with the United States.
He also says that North Korea only has nuclear bombs and missiles for protection, and that Kim Jong Un has no intention of setting any off. Hopefully, he’s right.