N. Korean leader's nephew labels him a 'dictator'
By Giles Hewitt ,AFP
October 20, 2012, 12:06 am TWN
SEOUL -- Kim Jong Il's teenage grandson has labeled his uncle, North Korea's new leader Kim Jong Un, a "dictator" in an interview that offers a rare glimpse into the world's most secretive ruling dynasty.
During the interview, conducted at the school in Bosnia where he studies, Kim Han Sol, 17, spoke of his desire to "make things better" for the Korean people.
Sporting wide, black-frame glasses, two studs in his left ear and a fashionable haircut, Kim also talked of his close friendships with South Korean and U.S. students and his hopes for the Korean Peninsula's reunification.
Born in Pyongyang in 1995, Kim described a lonely early childhood, spent mostly in the home of his mother's family — isolated from the grandfather he never actually met and who died in December last year.
"I always wanted to meet him, because I just wanted to know what kind of person he is," Kim said in the interview, which aired on Finnish television and was posted on YouTube.
"I was actually waiting for him ... until he passed away, hoping he would come find me, because I really didn't know if he knew that I existed," he said.
Kim, now 17, is the son of Kim Jong Il's eldest son Kim Jong Nam, who fell out of favor with his father following a botched attempt in 2001 to secretly enter Japan using a fake passport and visit Disneyland.
The family has since lived in virtual exile, mainly in the Chinese territory of Macau.
"My dad was not really interested in politics," Kim said, when asked why his father was passed over for the dynastic succession in North Korea in favor of his younger brother.
"I don't really know why he became a dictator," Kim said of his uncle Kim Jung Un. "It was between him and my grandfather."
The interview was conducted in English by Elisabeth Rehn, a former U.N. under secretary general and special rapporteur for Human Rights in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and first broadcast on Monday.
"1995, the year Han Sol was born, was a dark year in North Korea history. Millions of people starved to death," ran a caption displayed on the screen during the broadcast
"When I was growing up in North Korea, I wasn't really aware of what was going on there," Kim said.
"I've always dreamed that one day I would go back and make things better and make it easier for the people there," he added.
Kim enrolled in the United World College in Mostar last year, arousing intense media interest, which he did his best to avoid.
He gave no indication as to why he had chosen to speak out now, or whether the interview had been sanctioned either by his own family or by Pyongyang.
Speaking of his overseas studies, both in Macau and Bosnia, Kim recalled how it was "kind of awkward" when he first met students from South Korea as well as the United States.
"But then, little by little, we started understanding each other," he said. "Now, we are really close friends and we travel together, and it's such a wonderful feeling.
"It's really sad I can't go to the other side (South Korea)," he added. "But we can, if we put in a little effort, step-by-step, come to a conclusion and unite."
He offered no direct insight into the current relations between his immediate family and the regime led by his uncle in Pyongyang.
In an email exchange with a Japanese journalist published in February, Kim's father, Kim Jong Nam, had spoken disparagingly of Kim Jong Un lacking "any sense of duty or seriousness" and warned that bribery and corruption would lead to North Korea's eventual collapse.
Kim Han Sol revealed that he had a Libyan roommate in Mostar who had been an avid supporter of the revolution that toppled Moammar Gadhafi.
"When it happened he was really enthusiastic about it, and he was telling me many stories ... how he went home and saw a different Libya ... It was really interesting," Kim said.
After finishing school, Kim said he envisioned himself getting involved in voluntary and humanitarian work aimed at "building world peace."