CHICAGO (CBS) — An observer and analyst of the North Korean political landscape suggests there are a couple of hopeful signs as the isolated nation gets its newest “dear leader.”

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Professor Bruce Cummings, chairman of the History Department at the University of Chicago, says the best news about the ascension of Kim Jong Un is that he was educated in Switzerland, in English, and thus has some experience with a free, democratic society.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Also, a classmate at school in Berne, Switzerland, told Bloomberg News that Kim Jong Un had a passion for NBA basketball in general, and Bulls legend Michael Jordan in particular.

Cummings, who wrote Origins of the Korean War, and North Korea: Another Country, says Kim Jong Un’s background is thus already far different from that of his father and grandfather, who never traveled beyond in East Berlin in Europe.

Cummings described Kim Jung Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, as cynical, dyspeptic and conspiratorial, and said Kim Jong Un should provide a much better face for the North Korean regime.

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