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Youth Movement

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North Koreans got another chance to see their new ruler at a huge rally held for Kim Jong-un last week, but to the outside world much about the 28-year-old remains unknown—aside from the fact that he now controls the nuclear arsenal and million-troop-strong army of a bonkers country. Here, some of his fellow prodigies past and present.

Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, Korea
Assumed power at age: 28
Tenure: 2011–present
Became heir apparent when his older half-brother was caught using a fake passport to try to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

King Henry VI, England
Assumed power at age: 8 months
Tenure: 1422–1461, 1470–1471
A dispute over succession with his cousin ignited the War of the Roses. He was sacked in 1461 (boo!) and recaptured the throne in 1470 (yay!) only to be executed a year later (sad trombone noise).


Governor Stevens Thomson Mason, Michigan
Assumed power at age: 23
Tenure: 1835–1840
Elected to lead the Michigan Territory at age 23, he oversaw the statehood process and invented the thing where people from Michigan hold up their hand and point to the part of the state they’re from.*


Pope John XII, Holy See
Assumed power at age: 18
Tenure: a.d. 955–964
Installed by his father, the ruler of Rome, John XII served for eight and a half years before a German king deposed him for “immorality,” “simony,” and crimes “too disgraceful to be spoken in words.”


Emperor Puyi, China
Assumed power at age: 2
Tenure: 1908–1912
“Reigned” for three years before he was deposed. Spent a decade in Communist rehabilitation camp. Became fodder for Oscar-winning film.




Representative William Charles Cole Claiborne, Tennessee
Assumed power at age: 24
Tenure: 1797–1801
Representatives must be at least 25, but in an era of spotty record-keeping, Claiborne either didn’t know or hid his age. Descendants include fashion designer Liz Claiborne.


Senator John Henry Eaton, Tennessee
Assumed power at age: 28ish
Tenure: 1818–1829
Also managed to get sworn in while younger than the constitutional minimum. Later scandously married a divorcée.








President Andry Rajoelina, Madagascar
Assumed power at age: 33
Tenure: 2009–present
Rajoelina, nicknamed “TGV” after the French highspeed train, was installed by the military as head of a “transitional” government that is still transitioning.







Prime Minister Igor Lukšic, Montenegro
Assumed power at age: 34
Tenure: 2010–present
Succeeded oligarch Milo Djukanovic, who resigned as the country stepped up its drive for E.U. membership; it’s suspected Lukšic—who “likes” British P.M. David Cameron on Facebook—is still influenced by his predecessor.

*Totally made up.

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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