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This working paper presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, conducted 2013–2018 from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon.

Psychodiagnostically relevant data about Kim was collected from open-source media reports and synthesized into a personality profile using the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with DSM–III–R, DSM–IV, and DSM–5.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed in accordance with interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Kim’s primary personality patterns were found to be Outgoing/gregarious and Dominant/ controlling, supplemented by secondary Ambitious/confident, Dauntless/adventurous, and Accommodating/cooperative features. Given his Outgoing–Dominant primary personality composite, Kim may be classified as a high-dominance extravert.

Outgoing individuals are dramatic attention‑getters who thrive on being the center of social events, go out of their way to be popular with others, and are confident in their social skills; they may have an impulsive tendency and be prone to boredom. Dominant individuals enjoy the power to direct others and to evoke obedience and respect; they can be tough and unsentimental and often make effective leaders. Ambitious individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and may act as though entitled. Dauntless individuals tend to flout tradition, conventional standards, and cultural mores, dislike following routine, and may act impulsively and recklessly; they are resistant to coercion and may exhibit a strong need for autonomy and self-determination. Accommodating individuals are notably cordial, cooperative, and amicable; they are willing to adapt their preferences to be compatible with those of others, to reconcile differences to achieve peaceable solutions, and to concede or compromise when necessary.

Kim Jong-un’s major personality-based leadership strength is a distinctly outgoing tendency, supplemented by an accommodating inclination, which could serve his nation well with respect to greater openness in the international arena.


The research was conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics (USPP), a collaborative faculty–student research program in the psychology of politics at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict in Collegeville and St. Joseph, Minnesota, directed by Aubrey Immelman, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, who specializes in the psychological assessment of presidential candidates and world leaders.

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