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An Interview with Kim Jong Il's Grandson
October 18, 2012 11:50 PM   Subscribe

Kim Han Sol is the son of Kim Jong Nam, who is the eldest son of Kim Jong Il, the recently deceased North Korean dictator. In this English interview for Finnish TV with former United Nations Under-Secretary General Elisabeth Rehn, he talks about his life, refers to his uncle and current DPRK Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Eun, as a 'dictator,' and says he never met his grandfather. [Part 1 (interview begins at 1:35)] [Part 2]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken (22 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, this is pretty fascinating. From what I can gather he lives in Macau with his father, Kim Jong-il's first son, but got sent to Serbia for boarding school which strikes me as kind of odd. Plenty of shiny new international schools in China these days, but it's kind of a throwback to Lil' Kim Jong-il and other DPRK leadership offspring getting sent to remote Eastern European places for their education.

I guess the thinking was they need something of a Western-style education, but not too Western.

Anyways, best of luck to this kid. I'm sure there'd be no small pay-day for offing him if he keeps on talking this way.
posted by bardic at 12:04 AM on October 19, 2012


Bosnia, sorry.
posted by bardic at 12:09 AM on October 19, 2012


Did he say he was born in 1995?
That would make him 17 today ... he is very well spoken for such a young man. Also excellent English, almost flawless, and in any case much better than the interviewer's. Seems to be a very bright kid.
I wonder if the metal in his ears is some sort of rebellious act.

Also, Elisabeth Rehn is just radiating kindness.
posted by sour cream at 12:28 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The interview is sorely lacking in detail on his sidekick, Kim Chu Bok.

it's kind of a throwback to Lil' Kim Jong-il and other DPRK leadership offspring getting sent to remote Eastern European places for their education.

I dunno, UWC Mostar seems like a pretty cool and progressive place:
The UWCiM was founded as a joint initiative of UWC and the International Baccalaureate Organization with the aim to support the peace process in the country and the region. The college is implementing recognizable model of post-conflict education, practically demonstrating a convincing, fully integrated curriculum, thus offering a milestone for broader educational reform in the county and the region.

In fact, it is quite suggestive of groundwork for a post-reunification (or at least post-status-quo) political role. At the very least, I bet he has a lot of future Davos participants as classmates.
posted by dhartung at 12:43 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the metal in his ears is some sort of rebellious act.

It DOES feel pretty out of place, fabulous frames included, with the khaki monotone of his relatives' crime syndicate.
posted by basicchannel at 12:44 AM on October 19, 2012


Remember, two of Kim Jong Il's kids went to boarding school in Switzerland (including Kim Jong Un)--I believe the girl was at Le Rosey (!) even.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:57 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Serbia

Bosnia

Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Also excellent English, almost flawless, and in any case much better than the interviewer's.

He has the quasi-American accent of a kid that grew up in international schools with a revolving door of other expat children speaking English as a second language. Like Hogwarts, only worse.

Elisabeth Rehn's English is flawless. Her charming accent isn't Finnish, it's "Finlands-Svensk". (She is from the tiny part of the Finnish population that has Swedish as a mother-tongue.) And yes, she just radiates kindness, but it's more being careful. She says at the beginning (in Swedish) that she was nervous about the interview and possibly asking him questions the answers to which might put his family at risk.

A thoughtful and interesting 15 minutes, but not enough to tease me into watching Part 2.
posted by three blind mice at 1:14 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not so surprised he is studying in Bosnia. Like North Korea, they fought a civil war to break away from authoritarian rule. Although they succeeded, they did not get the best land, and the war devastated their economy. Their neighbors have (mostly) the same language and culture but nationalism and bad blood from the war keep them from reconciling.
posted by foobaz at 2:52 AM on October 19, 2012


Actually Korean "nationalism" would push both sides towards integration, since their national loyalty would be towards "Korea" rather then one side or the other. Same with Germany.

Anyway, people don't generally chose a school or university based on being in a country that is in some way analogous to the country you are from.
posted by delmoi at 4:49 AM on October 19, 2012


Actually Korean "nationalism" would push both sides towards integration, since their national loyalty would be towards "Korea" rather then one side or the other. Same with Germany.

Sorry, man, but you haven't got a goddamned shred of a clue of what you're talking about.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:57 AM on October 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Sorry, man, but you haven't got a goddamned shred of a clue of what you're talking about.

Yes, but the important thing is just to keep bullshitting on! Isn't it?
posted by Wolof at 5:03 AM on October 19, 2012


Not sure why it would be Bosnia, but I thought the reason NOT to study in China is that North Korea is a Stalinist state, rather than Maoist.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:34 AM on October 19, 2012


He was refused a visa for Hong Kong, where he had originally planned to study. The college he is at is part of a group of 12 schools. I imagine it's quite hard for him to get a visa for many of the other locations (UK, US, Canada, India, Norway, Singapore, Italy, Netherlands, Costa Rica and.. possibly the other option: Swaziland).
posted by MuffinMan at 5:52 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow. His parents did not tell him that his grandfather was Kim Jong-Il, in an effort to not make him a spoiled asshole, like...Kim Jong-Il. Then, they shipped him off for an unblindered foreign education. They seem like good parents, but I have to wonder how the son of Kim Jong-Il picked up those parenting skills.

In some ways, this interview is not as insightful as one might expect because it's more of an interview with someone that escaped the regime early in life, rather than of one that of one with someone that lived in a position of power.

It does make me wonder, though - Kim Jong-Un did go to school in Switzerland and had a similar exposure to the outside world, probably getting an idea how regular people outside of the DPRK lived. Yet, he chose to dive back in and keep it running.
posted by ignignokt at 9:26 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to wonder how the son of Kim Jong-Il picked up those parenting skills.

I think if you look back in history you will find this sort of thing in many aristocratic families, where just to survive (even if it isn't actually a life-or-death matter) you need exceptional diplomatic skills, and the extent to which you want your children to be in the game -- and for the more cynical, what you want for them if you know they have no chance of being in the game.

Kim Jong-Un did go to school in Switzerland and had a similar exposure to the outside world, probably getting an idea how regular people outside of the DPRK lived. Yet, he chose to dive back in and keep it running.

Yes, and Sayyid Qutb had exposure to the West before returning home and creating the modern anti-American Islamist movement that eventually spawned al Qaeda. Perhaps Kim saw in his formative years a decadent, materialistic West that eschewed values such as the North Korean ideology of juche. Or perhaps he simply found there other elite future leaders who collectively have the sense that they alone are anointed with the talent and skill to direct their societies.

It's tempting to believe that the West is always its own best advertisement and merely touching us is enough to make us all Disraelis or Voltaires or Kings, but it's more truism than true. We have many of our own who are repelled by our own culture, or at least its extremisms and excesses.
posted by dhartung at 9:57 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm not saying the message he should have gotten is The West Is Great. Rather, just that people aren't starving and there are fewer executions. He could get the same information from a visit to China.

Nor am I saying that Kim Jong-Un is irrational to choose to embrace the regime. He had much to gain from it. But it was indeed a choice.
posted by ignignokt at 10:05 AM on October 19, 2012


Drop the Kim, add an "O" and he has the coolest name any grandchild of a dictator ever had.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:41 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I apologize for the harshness of my earlier comment. There was no need to be so blunt.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:46 PM on October 19, 2012


Kim Jong-Un did go to school in Switzerland and had a similar exposure to the outside world, probably getting an idea how regular people outside of the DPRK lived. Yet, he chose to dive back in and keep it running.
As opposed to what? Shutting it all down immediately? Do you think he actually had the power to do that?

He's only been in power for 10 months. Obviously we don't really know anything about what he really thinks. But people were calling him a monster like a couple weeks after he took power.

The longer he's in power, the more moral responsibility he should bare. But ultimately he only has power because other people with power in that society listen to him. If they chose not too, or if they just decide to assassinate him, he can't make them do anything.
posted by delmoi at 6:53 PM on October 19, 2012


As opposed to what? Shutting it all down immediately? Do you think he actually had the power to do that?

Have you watched the linked interview?
posted by ignignokt at 7:35 PM on October 19, 2012


Thank you for sharing, this was very interesting. I'm curious about his early life with his mother's side of the family. He calls them "ordinary citizens", but they must have been somewhat privileged to live in Pyongyang. And if so, it is even more interesting that he had to piece together who his grandfather was. Can you imagine coming to the realization that your secret grandfather was not just some politician, but the "Supreme Leader"?
posted by smartypantz at 5:20 PM on October 20, 2012


Kim Jong Un executes Army official with mortar round for partying too much in aftermath of father Kim Jong-Il’s death: reports
posted by homunculus at 3:39 PM on October 25, 2012


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