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Becoming Kim Jong-Un Reviews

Becoming Kim Jong-Un by Jung H. Pak

Becoming Kim Jong Un: Understanding North Korea's Young Dictator

Jung H. Pak

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Oneworld Publications
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Publication date: 18 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9781786077165

The first book from a former intelligence community insider

4 stars out of 5
7 Mar 2021

"The author does her best to maintain a detached analytical tone in the face of material that, on the face of it, belongs in a Tarantino movie"

There are no intelligence secrets revealed in this book, but it is an intelligent collection of publicly available material put together with the perspective of an insider. Pak does not mention that the CIA traced every one of Kim’s classmates in Switzerland, but she admits that the intelligence community leaves no stone unturned in trying to crack a hard target like North Korea. Her principal insight is about the limitations of America itself in dealing with what she calls “a small, impoverished and isolated country led by a risk-tolerant millennial dictator” that is nonetheless capable of defying the most powerful nation on earth.


3 stars out of 5
Richard Lloyd Parry
6 Mar 2021

"Jung Pak exudes the ambiguous authority and glamour of the spook"

By now the story of Kim’s rise is well documented. Pak relates it with solemn efficiency, but without a whiff of spooky insider knowledge. She could never get away with publishing secrets, of course, but readers are entitled to expect something new. Interestingly, her most original observations are not about the mad despot of North Korea, but the United States. Trump saw himself in Kim Jong-un. “They were both in their twenties when they inherited wealth and an empire,” Pak writes.