Summary of The Education of Kim Jong–un

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As one of the world’s most isolated nations, North Korea remains a conundrum to Western observers, in many ways – as does its leader, Kim Jong-un. But given the country’s growing arms capabilities, misreading North Korea’s actions or misunderstanding Kim himself could lead to dire consequences. In a paper written for the Brookings Institution, North Korea expert and former CIA analyst Jung H. Pak explains why any engagement or de-escalation strategy for the Korean Peninsula must rest on a solid comprehension of Kim Jong-un’s background and evolving aspirations.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What priorities drive Kim Jong-un’s policy decisions, 
  • What domestic and international pressures Kim’s regime faces, and
  • Why Kim will not give up North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

About the Author

Jung H. Pak is a senior fellow and the SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies at the Brookings Institution’s Center for East Asia Policy Studies.



North Korean leader Kim Jong-un came to power in his mid-20s, following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December 2011. Raised in luxury and educated for several years in Switzerland, Kim was groomed to rule from childhood. His public image is at once that of a childlike figure prone to erratic behavior (in the foreign press) and that of a godlike entity with exceptional physical prowess and intelligence (within North Korea).

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