Kim Jong Un’s decade of rule: Nuclear Ambitions, Consolidation of Power & Failed Diplomacy

December 17 marks 10 years since Kim Jong Un, the third generation of his family to rule North Korea, took power after his father’s sudden heart attack.

Initially considered inexperienced, Kim quickly showed his ruthless willingness to consolidate his power to rule over the East Asia country.

He consolidated his position as the country’s leader by having his powerful uncle and other potential rivals executed or purged.

Despite a failing economy, he has ensured a continuous run of nuclear and missile tests in recent years which many fear could result in a second Korean War.

On December 30, 2011, Kim Jong Un was named supreme commander of the North’s 1.2 million-strong military, his first top job after his father’s death.

Under his rule, North Korea put a satellite into orbit in December 2012 and conducted several nuclear tests between 2013 and 2016.

In 2017, North Korea conducted at least three flight tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles in an apparent dare to the US.

Kim attempted to mend ties with South Korea with the nudge from the Trump administration in 2018 and vowed to achieve a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

However, his attempts at diplomacy and mending ties with Western powers collapsed because of disputes over U.S.-led sanctions.

With the pandemic and sanctions causing deepening problems, Kim has sealed off his country’s borders and tried to fix its struggling economy.

In January 2021, Kim Jong Un admitted his economic development plans had failed during the North’s first Workers’ Party congress.

But he also threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal and develop more sophisticated weapons in protest of what he calls U.S. hostility.

Recently, Kim Jong Un vowed to build an “invincible” military during a rare weapons exhibition that includes long-range missiles capable of reaching the U.S. homeland.

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