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The Kim dynasty: North Korea's secretive rulers

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Following a successful missile test and the murder of his half-brother in Kuala Lumpur, North Korean leader Kim Jung Un has been thrust back into the headlines. CNBC takes a look at the hermit state's ruling dynasty.

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Known as "The Eternal President", Kim Il Sung established the North Korean dictatorship after World War II. With the help of the Soviets who installed him, he purged political enemies and laid the foundations for the regime we see today. He had three children; Kim Man Il, Kim Kyung Hee and his successor Kim Jong Il.

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Official history says Kim Jong Il was born in North Korea in 1942. In fact, MSNBC reported he was born in the Soviet Union in 1941. Characterized as a playboy who loved American movies, he ran the country after his father's death in 1994. State media announced the death of "The Dear Leader" on December 19, 2011. He is thought to have had at least four female partners.

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Kim Jong Il's first wife was known as Kim Yong Suk but no photographs are easily found. She gave birth to their daughter, Kim Sol Sung, in 1974. Her influence and status waned after Kim Yong Il became involved with the dancer Kim Jong Hui. Estranged from Kim Yong Il some years before his death.


Prior to marrying Kim Yong Suk, Kim Yon Il had an affair with Song Rae Him, a famous actress. Song reportedly suffered mental illness after being forced to leave North Korea and spend her exile in Russia, where she died at the age of 63. The pair had a son; Kim Yong Nam.

This file photo dated 04 May 2001 shows a man believed to be Kim Jong-Nam, son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, being escorted by an immigration officer as he gets off a bus to board a All Nippon Airways plane headed to China, at Narita airport near Tokyo.
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The illegitimate offspring of Song Rae Him and Kim Jong Il. Kim Yong Nam was raised in secrecy and tipped to take the North Korean crown after his father's death. Jong Nam fell out of favor after being caught trying to travel to Disneyland. He was reportedly murdered on Monday after an apparent poison attack in Kuala Lumpur's main airport in Malaysia.

Another one of Kim Jong Il's lovers. Ko Yong Hui was working as a dancer before becoming his partner and bore him two sons and a daughter. One of the sons is Kim Jong-Un, the country's current leader. She died in 2004, reportedly of breast cancer.

This picture released by North Korean news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 1, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un delivering the new year message in Pyongyang.
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The supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Little is known for sure about Kim Jong Un. Before taking power, he had barely been seen in public, and many of the activities of both Kim and his government remain shrouded in secrecy. Even his birth date is uncertain but he is believed to be around 33 years old.

An image of Kim Jong-chol in 1988, aged six.

The oldest son of Kim Jong Il but passed over for the top job by his younger brother Kim Jong Un. Kim Yong Chul was initially seen as the successor but a book written by a chef to the family suggested he was viewed as "girlish" and too soft for the job. He is said to remain close to his brother.

Kim Yo Jung

Mystery also surrounds Kim Yo Chong, the younger sister of Kim Yong Un. Born in 1987, she reportedly attended the International School of Berne in Switzerland. The International Business Times reported that in October 2014 she possibly took over state duties for her brother while he underwent medical treatment.