Kim Jong Un's high school teacher says the North Korean leader probably knows English and just pretends not to

NBC NewsNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s former teacher, Michel Riesen.
  • In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s former high school teacher said the dictator probably knows English and just pretends not to.
  • The interview with Kim’s former teacher comes as the North Korean leader prepares for his summit on Tuesday with President Donald Trump in Singapore.

In an interview with the “Today” show on Monday, Kim Jong Un’s former high school teacher said the North Korean dictator probably knows English and just pretends not to.

“He was a good student, but he wasn’t extraordinary,” Michel Riesen said to NBC’s Keir Simmons.

Then called “Pak Un”, masquerading as the son of an employee of the North Korean embassy, Kim is thought to have attended an English-language international school in G├╝mligen, near Bern. According to Riesen, Kim started school in Switzerland slightly over 20 years ago when he was 14 years old.

The school did not confirm to NBC that Kim was a student, but it did say a North Korean student attended from 1998 to 2000. The school described the student as “well-integrated, diligent, and ambitious.” It also noted that his favourite hobby was basketball.

Riesen said he taught Kim sports, maths, and German, and was also his homeroom teacher. He said the future North Korean leader had limited friendships in school, but that Kim loved playing basketball.

He would wear NBA clothes and Nike Air Max sneakers when playing basketball at school, Riesen said, adding that he would joke with Kim that he looked like a pro.

Kim’s love for basketball has lasted into adulthood, and he has struck up an unlikely friendship with NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, who has visited North Korea multiple times and is travelling to Singapore for the summit Kim is having with President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

Translators will be present for Trump and Kim’s one-on-one meeting Tuesday local time (Monday night ET), though experts have speculated that Kim knows English and uses translators to have more time to respond.

Riesen said his advice for Trump would be to “try to find the sense of humour” that Kim has.

Watch the full interview below:

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