North Korea leader spent 9 years in Switzerland: papers

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 22, 2012 12:54 PM
North Korea leader spent 9 years in Switzerland: papers

ZURICH (Reuters) - North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un spent more of his childhood being educated under a pseudonym in Switzerland than originally thought, Swiss newspapers reported on Sunday.

Jong-un first travelled to Switzerland in 1991, aged eight or nine, rather than in 1998 as has previously been established, Le Matin Dimanche and the SonntagsZeitung reported, citing official Swiss police documents.

Little is known about the leader of the reclusive communist state, who took over from the late Kim Jong-il last year, not even his exact age.

Local education director Ueli Studer told Reuters in December that a boy known as Pak Un, registered as the child of a North Korean embassy employee, had attended a school in Berne from 1998 until late 2000.

School friends have identified Pak Un as Kim Jong-un and Swiss newspapers say they have proven - through a scientific comparison of a school photo and current pictures of the North Korean leader - that the two were one in the same.

On Sunday, the newspapers said it was not clear where the boy had gone to school between 1991 and 1998.

Berne's international school has declined to comment on whether he attended that school, where his older brother reportedly spent some time.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that the fact that Kim Jong-un had lived outside North Korea might mean he would change political course despite his country's recent rocket launch and the threat of a new nuclear test.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Andrew Osborn)