Entries in Kim Jong Il (19)


Kim Jong Il’s Eldest Son Predicts Failure for North Korea

JoongAng Sunday/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The eldest son of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il questions his half brother’s ability to lead the reclusive regime, and predicts failure in a new book set for release in Japan this week.

Titled My Father, Kim Jong Il, and Me, the book is based on reported interviews and emails between Japanese journalist Yoji Gomi and Kim Jong Nam, over a seven year period.  It offers a revealing look at the inner workings of the Kim family.

On the issue of succession, Kim Jong Nam says his father initially opposed the hereditary transfer of power, saying it would damage his accomplishments, along with those of his father Kim Il Sung, the late leader.  He eventually changed his mind, convinced that a continuation of the Kim family line was necessary to maintain stability in North Korea.

“The dynastic succession is a joke to the outside world,” Kim Jong Nam says in the book, according to excerpts published by the South Korean daily, Chosun Ilbo. “The Kim Jong Un regime will not last long.”

Kim Jong Nam says his half brother was tapped to be the next leader solely because he physically resembled his grandfather.  He reveals he has never met Kim Jong Un.

“Without reforms, North Korea will collapse, and when such changes take place, the regime will collapse,” he says.  “I think we will see valuable time lost as the regime sits idle fretting over whether it should pursue reforms or stick to the present political structure.”

Kim Jong Nam has made no secret of his rift from the rest of the Kim family.  Known as a playboy, the eldest son spends much of his time in Macau.  He was arrested in 2001, after he tried to sneak into Japan with a fake passport to go to Tokyo Disneyland, falling out of favor with his father.  The eldest son was largely absent from any of Kim Jong Il’s official funeral coverage, which aired on North Korea’s state media.

Still, Kim Jong Nam says ideological differences, not his personal lifestyle, caused his father to turn against him.

“After I went back to North Korea following my education in Switzerland, I grew further apart from my father because I insisted on reform and market-opening and was eventually viewed with suspicion,” he says. “I told him honestly how the international community was concerned about the nuclear tests and missile launches and I am asking him to train my brother well in order to ensure a good life for the people.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Documentary Shows Kim Jong Un Threatening War in 2009

Dieter Depypere/Bloomberg via Getty Images (PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- North Korea's government is trying to prove that Kim Jong Un was talking tough long before he became the country's "supreme leader" last month.

Kim, who stepped into the shoes of his late father, Kim Jong Il, allegedly said he'd order his country to war if any of Pyongyang's enemies shot down a rocket.

The boast was made in April 2009.  North Korea aired a documentary on state TV Sunday that showed Kim threatening war while supposedly in charge of the military's anti-rocket interception operations back then.

The country is attempting to show that Kim is capable of running North Korea and the 1.2 million-strong military even with his limited experience.

The documentary aired on what is believed to be Kim's 27th or 28th birthday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kim Jong Un Named N. Korean Military's 'Supreme Commander'

Dieter Depypere/Bloomberg via Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- Kim Jong Un, the son of deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, has been named "Supreme Commander" of that nation's military, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Media reports say the decision came Friday at a meeting for the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party.

'Supreme Commander' is just one of the titles held by Kim Jong Il before his death earlier this month. As his successor, Kim Jong Un will also lead the country's military of 1.1 million.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Korean Dictator’s Final Ride Was in a Vintage Lincoln Continental

KYODO NEWS/AFP/Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- Mourners lined the streets of the North Korean capital Pyongyang on Wednesday, crying and wailing as the funeral procession for Kim Jong-Il crawled slowly through the streets. But a curious detail was that the boxy black hearse that crept through the light snow was a vintage Lincoln Continental.

The choice of a U.S.-made luxury car seems odd for a country that preached a belligerent self reliance, reviled America and was put on President George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil list.  

Experts at put the year of the Lincoln at 1976, making the 35-year-old vehicle older than North Korea’s 28-year-old new leader Kim Jong-Un.

Ford, the parent company of Lincoln, did not respond to telephone and email requests for comment.

The choice of an American luxury car for his final ride is consistent with Kim’s tastes, despite his regime’s propaganda depicting the U.S. as evil, dangerous and violent, and his history of antagonizing numerous American administrations with threats of war and nuclear weapons.

Kim was reported to be a big fan of Hollywood movies, with favorites including the slasher flick Friday the 13th and Sylvester Stallone’s action film Rambo. He supposedly owned both in his collection of more than 20,000 films, many of which starred his favorite actress Elizabeth Taylor. Kim was also a known NBA fan. One of his most prized possessions was said to be an autographed Michael Jordan basketball, presented to him by then Secretary of State Madeline Albright at a rare high point in North Korean-American relations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


North Korean Mourners Fill Streets for Kim Jong Il's Funeral

South Koreans watch the funeral procession of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at a train station in Seoul on Dec. 28, 2011. PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- Tens of thousands of mourners turned out in snowy Pyongyang Wednesday to bid farewell to the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The three-hour long procession began at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace where Kim's body has laid since the announcement of his death on Dec. 19.  Kim died of a heart attack at the age of 69 on Dec. 17 while on a train journey, according to North Korean media.

Tens of thousands of military officials in uniforms stood still waiting at the plaza in front of the palace.  At 10 a.m., the hearse carrying Kim's flower-decorated coffin atop made a grand entrance.

Kim's successor, Kim Jong Un, escorted the hearse on foot with his left hand holding onto the sedan's side mirror.  On the left was top military leader Ri Yong Ho, and just behind the young Kim was his uncle and Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law Jang Sung-Taek. Jang is believed to be the power behind the scenes.

The hearse, followed by dozens of cars and military trucks, drove slowly, passing through major monuments in the capitol. Public displays of mourning continued in the freezing weather, with even old women and young children with reddened cheeks, wailing out loud.

The three-hour long procession ended back at the palace with Kim Jong Un again walking alongside the hearse with a salute. Together with the top officials, his father's successor, said to be around 27 years old,  stood with his head bowed while rifles were fired 21 times in salute.

The official funeral will last two days, after which the late Kim will be laid at Kumsusan Memorial Palace where his father Kim Il Sung has been enshrined since 1994.  On Thursday, the nation will hold three minutes of silence for the fallen dictator.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mystery Surrounds North Korea's Heir Apparent Kim Jong Un

Dieter Depypere/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- As the world watches and wonders whether six decades of Kim family deification in North Korea can continue under new leader Kim Jong Un, speculation is mounting about who the son really is as details of his secretive past are patched together.

Little is known about the young Kim, the heir apparent of a nation possessing nuclear power and the world’s fourth-largest military. His name, age, marital status and educational background remain sketchy and no one from the outside world has even heard his voice.

“His personality is known to be cruel and brutal. When firing the old officials, he does it very easily, very quickly,” said Ha Taekeung, president of Open Radio for North Korea, an interest group based in Seoul.  Young but charismatic, Kim likes to speak more than listen at meetings, he said.

Kim is fond of China politically, but not culturally because of their low living standards. “It’s because he is more prone to Westernized lifestyle” from being raised “in a luxurious environment in North Korea and in Switzerland,” Ha said.

Kim Jong Un’s birth year was suddenly changed from 1983 to 1982 last year, making him either 27 or 28.  From 1998 to 2001, when he reportedly attended a school in Switzerland, he was known as Pak Un.  But his real name had turned out to be Kim Jung Oon, according to South Korean intelligence, with the last character of his first name Oon meaning “cloud.”  It was later changed to Kim Jong Un, with a different character that means “lighting up.”

Analysts have said this was a calculated move to justify the succession so as to make it appear that he was destined to “lighten up’” his father and grandfather’s legacy instead of “clouding” it.

The world got a first glimpse of Kim Jong Un when his photo was published in state media on Sept. 30, 2010.  Many South Koreans were stunned because of his striking resemblance to North Korea’s late-founder Kim ll Sung.  That resemblance is exactly why he was “daddy’s favorite” from early on, according to Kenji Fujimoto, who wrote a best-selling memoir about the Kim family after serving as their chef for 13 years.

South Korean media has been writing about Kim Jong Un with what little they can gather.  Chosun Ilbo, one of the largest newspapers, chose five keywords regarding Kim Jong Un: Swiss-educated, competitive, military academy, rookie complex and Kim Il Sung impersonation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is North Korean Mourning Over Kim Jong Il's Death Real?

Nelson Ching/Bloomberg via Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- North Korean television has been showing stunning footage of public grieving following the death of leader Kim Jong Il, featuring groups of men and women shaking and sobbing violently, apparently inconsolable with grief.

It looks like a kind of mass hysteria, and it’s disconcerting to watch.

The images are so extraordinary that many are asking whether the grief is authentic, or faked by North Koreans forced to mourn by one of the world’s last totalitarian regimes.

“People have been taught from their earliest years to see Kim Jong Il, like his father Kim Il Sung before him, as a God-like figure,” says Mike Chinoy, senior fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California and the author of Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Koean Nuclear Crisis.

“The whole system has been organized around the Kim cult -- mass worship of the leader, propaganda telling the population that everything in life comes from the benevolence of the leader,” he says.  “So it is not surprising that his death is a profound and unsettling shock to most North Koreans.”

Nor is it a surprise that the grieving seems to be a group activity, given the way society’s relationship with the state is organized through mass rallies, sports events and dances.  Add to the mix that Koreans are on the whole deeply emotional, with a strong custom of “public lamentation” at family funerals.

Yet North Koreans have little choice but to join in the highly-choreographed propaganda.

“The North Koreans know that it is in their own interest to be perceived as being emotionally distraught about the death of Kim Jong Il, and so they do what is expected of them,” says Donald Gregg, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea.  “Their own, natural emotionalism makes it easier for them to perform.”

A North Korean defector and former official has described the chilling scrutiny of people’s response to the death of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il’s father and the founder of North Korea, in 1994.

“The party conducted surveys to see who displayed the most grief, and made this an important criterion in assessing party members’ loyalty,” wrote the late Hwang Jang Yop.  “Patients who remained in hospitals and people who drank and made merry even after hearing news of their leader’s death were all singled out for punishment.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


China Recognizes Kim Jong Il's Son as His Heir Apparent

Dieter Depypere/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BEIJING) -- On the day that his late father's body went on display in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un received an important boost from North Korea's most important ally.

China announced Tuesday that it would recognize him as the rightful leader of North Korea, replacing his father, Kim Jong Il, who died last Saturday at age 69.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said that his country had faith the North Korean people would unite around "Comrade Kim Jong Un" to build a strong communist country.

Liu also said it was China's hope that the new leader would "realize permanent peace on the Korean peninsula," which threatens to become unstable because of the changing of the guard.

Kim Jong Un would be welcome to visit China when it is convenient for him and Beijing to do so.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US: Condolences for Kim Jong Il Not 'Appropriate'; Food Aid Deal Delayed

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she hopes the new North Korean leadership will move the country on a path to peace, but she offered no condolences on the death of longtime dictator Kim Jong Il.

“We didn’t consider it appropriate in this case,” Clinton’s spokeswoman Victoria Nuland explained Tuesday.

Kim’s death came as the United States was preparing to resume food aid to North Korea. Though officials insist the issues are separate, they say they hope the aid will eventually lead to a resumption of negotiations regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

Nuland said Tuesday that it is unlikely the United States would resume food aid to North Korea before next year. The State Department says it still has concerns about monitoring the distribution of the aid and, given the weeks-long mourning period in North Korea following Kim’s death, they believe it’s unlikely those issues will be resolved before the end of the year.

U.S. officials were in touch with North Korean officials Monday at the United Nations, through what’s called the New York channel, to inform them that there is no deal yet on food aid, Nuland said, but she did not know whether there was any mention of Kim’s death during that communication.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kim Jong Il's Body On Display, Viewed by North Korean Officials

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- North Korean state media continues its special around the clock broadcast, displaying massive public grief over the loss of its leader Kim Jong Il.

The new leader, his son Kim Jong Un, was seen bowing Tuesday -- tight-lipped and fighting tears -- in front of his deceased father’s glass coffin decorated with red flowers known as “kimjongilia blossoms.”  He slowly circled the bier inside the Kumsusan Memorial Palace dressed in a black funeral suit looking solemn, followed by 20 to 30 senior party members and military officials.

Analysts in Seoul, South Korea, believe this is the main group in control of North Korea at the moment, including his uncle Jang Sung-Taek and aunt Kim Kyong-Hui.  Both are reportedly the mentors of, and the weight behind, the young Kim.

In a 10-minute long video, Jang was seen standing together with his political rival, Oh Keuk Ryul, known to be a key player in military affairs. Jang’s wife and Kim Jong Il’s only sister, Kim Kyong-Hui, was spotted wiping tears with her handkerchief.

The Kumsusan Memorial Palace is where the embalmed body of Kim Jong Il’s father and national founder Kim Il Sung has been on display since his death in 1994.

In Seoul, the government expressed sympathy, offering condolences to the people of North Korea.  After a day of intense discussions on what would be an appropriate level of condolence, South Korea announced that it will not send delegation to Pyongyang.  But travel permissions were given to family members of the late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and the late Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Mong-hun.  North Korean delegates had participated in the funerals of the two men who were behind the historical summit with Kim Jong Il in 2000.

In respect of the official mourning period that North Korea set until Dec. 29, South Korea’s Unification Ministry also announced that it will ask church groups to cancel the lighting of Christmas trees at the demilitarized zone scheduled this week. The trees were one of the symbols of psychological warfare which North Korea in the past had labeled as a serious provocation.

A two-day state funeral will begin at the Kamsusan Memorial Palace on Dec. 28.  According to state media, foreign delegations won’t be invited and entertainment will be forbidden in the country during the mourning period.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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