A groundbreaking account of the rise of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un, from his nuclear ambitions to his summits with President Donald J. Trump--from a former CIA analyst considered one of the leading American experts on the North Korean leader inside and outside the U.S. government.

When Kim Jong Un became the leader of North Korea following his father's death in 2011, predictions about his imminent fall were rife. North Korea was isolated, poor, unable to feed its people, and clinging to its nuclear program for legitimacy. Surely this twentysomething with the bizarre haircut and no leadership experience would soon be usurped by his elders. Instead the opposite happened. Now in his mid-thirties, Kim Jong Un has solidified his grip on his country and brought the U.S. and the region to the brink of war. Still, we know so little about him--or how he rules.

Enter former CIA analyst Jung Pak, whose brilliant Brookings Institution essay "The Education of Kim Jong Un" cemented her status as the go-to authority on the calculating young leader. From the beginning of Kim's reign, Pak has been at the forefront of shaping U.S. policy on North Korea and providing strategic assessments for leadership at the highest levels in the government, and in this masterly book, she traces and explains Kim's ascent on the world stage, from the brutal purges he carried out to consolidate his power to his abrupt pivot to diplomatic engagement that led to his historic--and still poorly understood--summits with President Trump. She also sheds light on how a top intelligence analyst assesses thorny national security problems, avoiding biases, questioning assumptions, and identifying risks as well as opportunities.

In piecing together Kim's wholly unique life, Pak argues that his personality, perceptions, and preferences are underestimated by Washington policy wonks who assume he sees the world as they do. As the North Korea nuclear threat grows, Becoming Kim Jong Un gives readers the first authoritative, behind-the-scenes look at Kim's personality and motivations, creating an insightful biography of the enigmatic man who will likely rule the Hermit Kingdom for decades--and has already left an indelible imprint on world history.
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