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Kim Jong-Un's Less Responsible, Disney-Obsessed Older Brother

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North Korea seems very keen of late to let everyone know that it is prepared to start a global thermonuclear war. The United States is taking the threat seriously, deploying antiballistic missile defenses along the Pacific Coast, and South Korea is threatening a “strong response in initial combat without any political considerations.” There is some question as to whether or not North Korea is technically capable of actually waging such a war, and it seems that nobody has told Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s Supreme Leader, my new favorite joke:

Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?
A. To escape North Korea’s long-range missiles.

In 2001, it didn’t seem that Kim Jong-un’s fingerprints might one day adorn the red button. In those heady days, a different Kim was in line for the throne: Kim Jong-nam (above right), the eldest son of Kim Jong-il. Things went bad for Kim Jong-nam when he was detained at Narita International Airport in Tokyo. The charge: traveling with a fraudulent passport. Specifically, he attempted to pass himself off as a Dominican named Pang Xiong (which translates as “Fat Bear” in Chinese). Japanese authorities, who know a fake Dominican when they see one, deported the heir apparent of North Korea to China.

Kim Jong-nam and his immediate family were attempting to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

All of this was pretty embarrassing for Kim Jong-il, the Shining Star of Paektu Mountain, who thus canceled his own planned Chinese excursion. Kim Jong-nam quickly fell out of favor with his father, and was replaced by Kim Jong-un in the line of succession.

Kim Jong-nam and Kim Jong-un are half-brothers. The older brother was born to Song Hye-rim, mistress of Kim Jong-il. The younger of the two was born to Ko Young-hee, a Pyongyang opera star. There is a middle brother—Kim Jong-chol—but Dear Leader considered him too feminine to lead a manly state like North Korea.

Life in Exile

These days, Kim Jong-nam reportedly lives in China, and makes frequent, extended visits to Macao, the Vegas of Asia. He is believed to have a pretty hearty appetite for booze and women. Officially, he has not defected and still lives in North Korea, though he didn’t bother to attend Kim Jong-il’s funeral, nor did he attend Kim Jong-un’s coronation. There are reports that Kim Jong-nam is opposed to such hereditary transfers of power, and believes North Korea must reform or perish. “As a matter of common sense, a transfer to the third generation is unacceptable,” Kim Jong-nam allegedly wrote in an email. He’s not bullish on his half-brother, either. “The power elite that have ruled the country will continue to be in control ... I have my doubts about whether a person with only two years of grooming as a leader can govern.”

His ongoing relationship with North Korea is “a very sensitive question, I can not answer.”

As for his family life, we know that his mother was eventually exiled by Kim Jong-il, and that she died alone in Moscow. Kim Jong-nam’s son attends a private high school in Mostar, Bosnia. (The son’s name is Kim Han Sol.)

The upshot is that Kim Jong-nam was passed over for having, in his father’s view, “less than reliable” judgment. Which means that Kim Jong-un, who is threatening to bring about a nuclear apocalypse, was considered the dependable one. All this because Kim Jong-nam wanted to go to Disneyland. If only he’d showed a little more restraint, Disneyland would have come to him.

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Animals
Watch a Rogue Pet Dog Interrupt a Russian News Anchor on Air
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Last week, a Russian news broadcast briefly went to the dogs after its host was startled by a surprise co-anchor: a friendly black canine that wandered on set, announced its presence with a loud bark, and climbed onto her desk.

 

As TODAY reports, Mir24 TV anchor Ilona Linarte went off script for a few minutes, telling viewers "I've got a dog here. What is this dog doing in the studio?" After the initial shock wore off, she gave her furry guest a tepid welcome, patting its head as she gently pushed it off the desk. ("I actually prefer cats,'' Linarte remarked. "I'm a cat lady.")

Linarte’s query was answered when the TV station announced that the dog had accompanied another show’s guest on set, and somehow got loose. That said, rogue animals have a proud tradition of crashing live news broadcasts around the world, so we’re assuming this won’t be the last time a news anchor is upstaged by an adorable guest star (some of which have better hair than them).

[h/t TODAY]

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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
SpaceX Is Sending Two Private Citizens Around the Moon
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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0

Two members of the public are set to take an historic trip around the Moon, according to an announcement from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. As The Verge reports, the anonymous private citizens have already placed substantial deposits on the commercial space flight.

The private spacecraft company SpaceX revealed on Monday that the Falcon Heavy rocket will be launching with its Crew Dragon spacecraft in late 2018. The mission will consist of a circumnavigation of the Moon, passing over the body’s surface before traveling farther into space and returning to Earth. In total, the trip will cover 300,000 to 400,000 miles and take a week to complete.

A noteworthy part of the plan is the human cargo that will be on board. Instead of professional astronauts, the craft will carry two paying customers into space. The passengers, who’ve yet to be named, will both need to pass several fitness tests before they're permitted to make the journey. According to The Verge, Musk said the customers are “very serious” and that the cost of the trip is “comparable” to that of a crewed mission to the International Space Station. The goal for SpaceX is to eventually send one or two commercial flights into space each year, which could account for 10 to 20 percent of the company’s earnings.

[h/t The Verge]

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