Kim Jong Il's 3 Sons: Are Any Fit for Power?

Experts question grit of trio, fans of Van Damme and Eric Clapton
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2009 5:46 PM CDT
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il reportedly suffered a stroke a year ago, and may be ill with cancer as well.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, Alexander Zemlianichenko, FILE)
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(Newser) – Kim Jong Il has presided over North Korea’s closed, crooked government with an iron fist for decades. But as the Dear Leader’s health fades, anxious observers are analyzing his three heirs apparent—none of whom seem fit for the job, Evan Thomas and Suzanne Smalley write in Newsweek. Unlike Saddam Hussein’s nefarious spawn, the brothers Kim have more benign tastes: Jean-Claude Van Damme flicks, Armani, Eric Clapton, and Disneyland.

Eldest son Kim Jong Nam is considered too undisciplined, and middle son Kim Jong Chol too effeminate, so many believe control will fall to the youngest, Kim Jong Un, 26, the most mysterious of the three. Schooled in Switzerland, Jong Un at age 12 demanded that even his sister address him with his official title, “General Comrade.” But his dynastic status may not be enough to ward off a fierce power struggle once the Dear Leader is no more.