Update: First he was voted "Sexiest Man Alive," (Well, that honor was actually given to him as a joke by the satirical newspaper, The Onion, but a Chinese news service mistook the Onion piece for real news and the story went viral.). Now he's being named as TIME Magazine "Person of the Year," as voted on by TIME readers.
Seriously, best year ever, anyone?
TIME reports: "He’s gotten the most votes in TIME’s completely unscientific reader Person of the Year Poll with 5.6 million votes. Not bad for a man who didn’t make an official public appearance until 2010.
"This doesn’t mean Kim is TIME’s Person of the Year. That choice is made by the editors of TIME and will be revealed Dec. 19 on the Today show, on TIME.com and via TIME’s Twitter handle. The poll allows readers to weigh in on the people—and things (Hello, Curiosity Rover!)—whom they think influenced the news, for better or worse, in 2012."
Here's the original take on why Kim should be named Person of the Year:
North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has cooked up a storm of amusement in recent weeks being named by The Onion as the Sexiest Man Alive for 2012. His reported “devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm and his strong sturdy frame” aside, he has featured heavily in this year’s media since taking power formally in April 2012 following his father’s death. He is a key political figure in today’s international affairs, which has been demonstrated when he was added to this year’s Forbes power list.
Behind his seemingly inexperienced and youthful facade, he has managed to consolidate his grip of power in North Korea by ousting his rivals at home, and has taken firm foreign policy decisions which other nations wouldn’t have had the courage to take, making him an international concern.
Within six months of taking power, Kim Jong-un has alienated the U.S., and put his country on the right track to developing nuclear warheads that may have the potential to hit the U.S. within the coming years. The possibility for new food aid offers coming from the U.S. has also been shunted, following North Korea’s defiant launch of a rocket in April, leaving millions of ordinary North Koreans struggling to avoid starvation. The confidence Kim Jong-un must have in his country’s position, power and ability, to either help the people himself or his indifference to their suffering, is beyond an outsider’s comprehension of this secret state.
Perhaps more surprising is Kim Jong-un’s policy towards China, given the level of dependence North Korea has on China both politically, and most crucially, economically. Relations have been rocky as the North Korean leader has on too many occasions defied the Chinese: for example, Chinese vice minister of foreign affairs, Fu Ying, visited North Korea shortly after Kim Jong-un took power to warn the leader not to carry out a ballistic missile test. The Chinese request was ignored and it went ahead anyway.
The uncertainty surrounding what North Korea will do next is a rare unifying topic between the U.S. and China, especially whether Kim Jong-un will follow in his father’s footsteps and carry out a further nuclear test as happened in 2006 and 2009. Kim Jong-un is keeping his cards very close to his chest, which is heightening tensions in the international community in anticipation that something could happen beyond its control.
Kim Jong-un is by no means a force of good for the world, as human rights violations are commonplace in North Korea. Most notably, a North Korean army chief was executed by a mortar round earlier this year. Many incidents go unreported however, with orders to kill defectors, public executions and sending people to political prison camps still persisting today. Many subjects live in a climate of fear and repression, only consolidating Kim Jong-un’s power at home further.
The grip Kim Jong-un has over the U.S., China and the international community in general in their fears of North Korea becoming a nuclear power, and the control he possesses at home, ticks both the influence at home and influence abroad boxes. These points alone would give the TIME editors enough reasons to choose Kim Jong-un as its “Person of the Year,” without even awarding him added kudos for a unicorn lair being discovered in his secretive country, or him being the “sort of man woman want, and men want to be” as suggested by The Onion.