News / Asia

New Book Sheds Light on North Korea Dynasty

Kim Jong Nam, eldest son of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, shown on cover of a Japanese book by journalist Yoji Gomi to be published Jan. 20 by Bungei Shunju.
Kim Jong Nam, eldest son of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, shown on cover of a Japanese book by journalist Yoji Gomi to be published Jan. 20 by Bungei Shunju.

Analysts who follow North Korea are awaiting publication of a Japanese book promising to give a rare glimpse into thoughts of the hereditary dynasty ruling the reclusive country.

In a book to be published next week Kim Jong Il's eldest son is quoted as saying he has little confidence in his younger half-brother, Kim Jong Un, to turn around impoverished and isolated North Korea.

That is according to the author, Japanese journalist Yoji Gomi.

"I feel that he has some jealousy about Kim Jong Un because his father, Kim Jong Il, selected him as the next leader," noted Gomi. "Sometimes he said to me that Kim Jong Un has no vision to rule North Korea, how to enrich North Korean people."

Gomi says he interviewed Kim Jong Nam for a total of seven hours last year in Beijing and Macao and has also corresponded with him several times since Kim Jong Il's death last month.

"He said to me many times he has no intention to go back to North Korea. But many people, including North Korean people and Chinese people, expect him to go back to North Korea as a kind of leader," Gomi said.

The author describes the 40-year old Kim Jong Nam as a true socialist despite his opulent lifestyle in exile, mainly in Macau.  He desires the transformation of North Korea and wants it to emulate China's state-managed economic reforms.  But Gomi says the eldest son is still contemplating just how much of a role he wants to take to bring about change in his homeland.

"I've encouraged to him to be more talkative about North Korea and sometimes criticize North Korean policy, but he has not decided," Gomi stated.

Gomi also quotes Kim Jong Nam saying his late father was reluctant to have any of his sons assume power. The North Korean also commented that the new leader, Kim Jong Il's third son, will be used as a symbol, ensuring continuing of the military-first system and the closed economy.

The author, a writer for the daily Tokyo Shimbun, says Kim did not want the book released at this sensitive time, so soon after the death of his father. But the publishing company (Bungei Shunju) plans to distribute the book on January 20.

Gomi says Kim expressed concern authorities in Pyongyang will do "something dangerous" if the Japanese book is issued. However, the author says Beijing will ensure Kim is not harmed because he has been living under its protection for years and strongly supports the Chinese system.

In the late 1990s, Kim Jong Nam  was apparently being groomed to succeed his father, but fell out of favor. Reports say that happened after his arrest in 2001 at Narita International Airport when he tried to enter Japan on a forged Dominican Republic passport, accompanied by a woman and a small boy.  Kim is reported to have told Japanese investigators the trio planned to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

Since the death of their father, Kim's half brother has been touted as North Korea's new "supreme commander" and "great successor."

Another book, published in 2003 by a Japanese man claiming to have been the family's chef characterized Kim Jong Un as his father's favorite child and described the middle son (Kim Jong Chol) as "unmanly" and dismissed as a potential successor.

Some analysts say, despite the North Korean media's increasing descriptions of Kim Jong Un as an experienced leader, the real control of the country is in the hands of one or more senior figures, including a vice chairman of the national defense commission, Jang Song Thaek, the husband of Kim Jong Il's sister.

A South Korean institute, affiliated with the country's foreign ministry has released a report predicting it is likely this year North Korea will launch a long-range missile and detonate a third nuclear test, to consolidate Kim Jong Un's military credentials.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs