Kim Jong-Un and a missed opportunity.

Kim Jong-Un’s recent call for the execution of 33 Christians is a call to prayer and a reminder of a missed opportunity with an international school student in the 1990s.

The following content is from Thomas Speckhardt, YouthCompass International.


The capital of North Korea lies over 5000 miles away from Berne, Switzerland. What does Berne have in common with Pyongyang? The current dictator Kim Jong Un, along with his brothers, lived there undercover with an aunt and uncle in the mid-1990’s. Some of the most formative years of Kim Jong Un’s life were spent attending international and local schools near Berne.

Another excerpt from Time:

“Despite the deception surrounding his true identity-Kim Jong Un once confided to a schoolmate who he really was, only to have the other laugh it off as a joke-the boy lived what his fellow students say was a normal life. He stayed in a nondescript apartment block about a 10-minute walk from school, and his love affair with basketball intensified. At a time when Michael Jordan was dominating the NBA, Kim became a big fan of the Chicago Bulls, says onetime classmate Joao Micaelo, now a chef in Vienna: “I think 80% of our time we were playing basketball.” Kim sometimes wore the jersey of Dennis Rodman, the flamboyant Bulls power forward known as much for his body piercing and tattoos as his rebounding. When they weren’t on the basketball court, Kim and his schoolmates played combat video games, watched Jackie Chan movies and occasionally did homework.”

YouthCompass helps to create positive community in international cities by gathering the sons and daughters of international business, non-governmental, and yes, governmental organizations, navigating life with them. Our leaders walk with students every day, entering their world and loving them unconditionally-modeling respect, trust and friendship. These values reflect our commitment to Jesus Christ. We are able to be a true friend in the midst of cultural transition, coming alongside those that are often challenged with the difficult questions of adolescence in a cross-cultural and mobile environment.

I often wonder how Kim Jong Un’s life would be different if he would have had the opportunity to experience something like YouthCompass in Berne. It also leads me to wonder, out of the over 250,000 14 to 19 year old students currently enrolled in highly mobile international schools across 170 countries, how many future leaders are going without someone navigating life with them?

“Autocratic, repressive, isolated and poor with not an iota of freedom.”

Could there be a starker contrast between cultures? There was an opportunity in the mid-90’s to connect with the current leader of North Korea, in a free, democratic country. 


We are walking alongside students from around the world and hoping to impact the lives of future leaders. Would you help us expand the opportunity to engage with those currently in international schools around the world right now? You may just be helping to shape the future.

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One Reply to “Kim Jong-Un and a missed opportunity.”

  1. Great post, Brice. I also loved all the pictures, of course. I can’t seem to get enough of them!


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