So he’s a high school dropout, he has a small nuclear arsenal, and he’s into torturing small animals and bondage porn. Anything else?

Soon enough, we’ll see different narratives about Kim Jong Eun emerge.  North Koreans are already hearing about Kim Jong-Eun’s badass marksmanship, and I suppose we’ll see him credited with superhuman intellence next.  Foreigners will want to believe he’s the next Gorbachev, and trust me, Peter Pan had nothing on our State Department.  I’d love to believe that myself.  And I suspect a certain former Washington Post reporter and frequent Pyongyang visitor is presently writing an op-ed telling us all that that’s so. Unfortunately, the little unverified information we have isn’t grounds for optimism:

North Korea’s new leader is depicted in U.S. intelligence assessments as a volatile youth with a sadistic streak who may be even more unpredictable than his late father, according to U.S. officials.  U.S. intelligence officials say they have limited information about Kim Jong Eun, the youngest son of Kim Jong Il and his anointed successor. The U.S. has had few direct contacts on which to make a “conclusive assessment” of Kim Jong Eun’s nature and character, a senior U.S. official said.  [….]

The portrait of Kim Jong Eun that emerges in his U.S. profile is that of a young man who, despite years of education in the West, is steeped in his father’s cult of personality and may be even more mercurial and merciless, officials said.

A senior U.S. official said intelligence analysts believe, for instance, that Kim Jung Eun “tortured small animals” when he was a youth. “He has a violent streak and that’s worrisome,” a senior U.S. official said, summing up the U.S. assessments.  [Wall Street Journal]

In that case, let’s try to take comfort in the fact that he’s probably much too smart to do anything rash or dangerous:

He is the heir poised to become the next leader of rogue state North Korea.  But a probe into the school days of Kim Jong Un – youngest son of dictator Kim Jong Il – proves he is little more than an academic failure who squandered his education playing computer games and basketball.  [….]

‘Un tried hard to express himself but he was not very good at German and became flustered when asked to give the answers to a problem. The teachers would see him struggling ashamedly and then move on. They left him in peace.  ‘He left without getting any exam results at all. He was much more interested in football and basketball than lessons.’  A big fan of star Michael Jordan, Kim Jong Un   – who was once caught with a bondage pornographic magazine in his school bag – proved to be a good player on the basketball court.  [Daily Mail]

Well, in that case, take comfort in the fact that what Kim Jong-Eun is probably irrelevant to policy-making in Pyongyang now.  And at least he’s reviving forgotten words like “regent,” “dauphin,” and “primogeniture,” and underused words like “porcine.”

While you’re at the WSJ, don’t miss two very good op-eds — one by old friend Sung Yoon Lee and new friend Sue Terry, and one by Melanie Kirkpatrick, who at last word was hard at work on a book on North Korean refugees.