Kim Jong Un is having a good year. After taking over the leadership of North Korea from his late father Kim Jong Il at the end of 2011, he solidified his control over the country, appeared on TIME’s cover and was even named Sexiest Man Alive. (O.K., that honor was actually bestowed as a spoof in satirical newspaper the Onion, but a Chinese news service mistook the piece for real news and the story went global.)
Now he has ranked first in TIME’s completely unscientific Person of the Year reader poll, with 5.6 million votes. Not bad for a man who didn’t make an official public appearance until 2010.
This doesn’t mean Kim is TIME’s Person of the Year. That choice is made by the editors of TIME, and will be revealed Dec. 19 on the Today show, on TIME.com and via TIME’s Twitter handle. The poll allows readers to weigh in on the people — and things (hello, Curiosity rover!) — who they think influenced the news, for better or worse, in 2012.
“While we don’t make our selection based on the poll results,” says TIME executive editor Radhika Jones, “it’s always interesting to see where some of our preferred candidates end up.” (For more on how TIME editors choose the Person of the Year, see a Q&A with Jones.)
The Daily Show funny man Jon Stewart, Undocumented Immigrants, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas, Burmese leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie all made it into the top 10. However, some of the highest vote tallies got a boost from members of Internet forums like 4Chan, which launched a campaign to manipulate the results, pushing North Korea’s leader to the top of the list.
The largest number of “no way” votes went to Morsi. Despite his unfavorable ranking, his inclusion on the poll elicited a flurry of passionate responses via social media, as did TIME’s Dec. 10 Morsi cover story and exclusive interview.
Other notable inclusions prompted plenty of online chatter, even if they didn’t result in a top ranking: Pakistani schoolgirl and girls’ education advocate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for her outspoken activism, placed 15th; South Korean pop star Psy, creator of “Gangnam Style” and the most watched video in YouTube history, placed 17th.