Anna Fifield: The Great Successor—Understanding Kim Jong Un

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North Korea is one of the oddest and most isolated political regime in the world—one that is broken yet able to summon a US president for peace talks, bankrupt yet in possession of nuclear weapons. To understand this unique nation and its significance in our modern political landscape, journalist Anna Fifield contended that we must understand the man who leads it. Fifield offered us a deep and involved portrait of Kim Jong Un, one of the world’s most secretive dictators.

Fifield shared insight from her book The Great Successor, unpacking the myth and propaganda of Kim’s life, from the plainly silly—he supposedly ate so much Swiss cheese that his ankles gave way—to the grimly bloody stories of the ways his enemies and rival family members have perished at his command. Fifield introduced us to a host of individuals in Kim’s life: the aunt and uncle who posed as his parents while he was growing up in Switzerland; members of the entourage that accompanied Dennis Rodman on his quasi-ambassadorial visits with Kim; and the Japanese sushi chef whom Kim befriended and who was the first outsider to identify him as the inevitable successor to his father as supreme ruler. Join Fifield for a captivating exploration of the life of Kim Jong Un—ridiculous but deadly; a man of our times.

Anna Fifield is the Beijing bureau chief for The Washington Post. She previously covered Japan and the Koreas for the Post, and was the Seoul correspondent for the Financial Times. She has reported from more than 20 countries and has visited North Korea a dozen times, becoming one of the most authoritative journalists on this impenetrable country.

Recorded live at the Forum at Town Hall Seattle on June 16, 2019.

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