Kremlinology WTF?

Did Kim Jong Un Try to Assassinate Kim Jong Nam?

Life imitates Austin Powers!

An aide to Kim Jong Un, the third and youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, planned to assassinate Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of Kim Jong Il, KBS television reported Monday.  The plan was foiled by Chinese authorities, KBS said, citing a Chinese government source.  [Kyodo News]

Well, maybe, but it’s too good not to blog.  Other Kim Jong Un rumors hold that he was actually in China recently as a “special envoy.”

[Update:   More on this in the Washington Post, via Reuters, which portrays it somewhat like the new vassal’s introductory kowtow, complete with a meeting with Hu Jintao.  I should note that the original report is sourced back to the Asahi Shimbun, it of the famous photo fiasco.]

For those who still insist on something substantive despite the nearly complete absence of known facts, the words “irrelevance” and “figurehead” go far to inform this discussion:

“We know almost nothing about the young man,” said Andrei Lankov, a Russian-born North Korea specialist at Kookmin University in Seoul. “Very young, without any administrative experience to speak of, and without his own coterie — he had not had time to create a power base. He will be an obedient puppet in the hands of people who lobbied for this decision. Who are these people? I have no idea, to be frank.

The power elite will support another hereditary succession, to keep the peace, some analysts say. But “whoever the new leader is, it will be a collective leadership in name or actuality,” said Bruce Klingner at the Heritage Foundation, who has worked as a Korea analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.  [N.Y. Times]

And why haven’t we seen his face?  It’s only my guess, but it can’t be easy to deify a baby-faced, morbidly obese god-king as ruler of 23 million skeletal orphans and bereaved parents.


  1. I wonder if tim geithner brushed shoulders with the brilliant comrade in the halls of the chinese politburo.


  2. If true, China just got a sure thing on a figure head leader of its own to place in Pyongyang should the opportunity arise. If I were a bigwig in NK, I’d be furious at those who set this in motion — either because they tried it or because they failed….

    …because they have just given Beijing a very important card to play…


  3. I just read several breaking news reports that Kim Jong-Un met Hu Jintao in Beijing and then toured factories in Guangdong province (near Hong Kong).
    First of all, there’s no way a North Korean delegation can spend time in China without having their photos taken. Imagine the Japanese bounty on having the world exclusive current photo of the mysterious third son. Certainly Asahi would have paid millions of yen (or yuan) to get it right this time.
    Next, this story is being reported along with news of an attempted assasination on eldest son Kim Jong Nam. Wouldn’t anybody like to know how they were planning to do that?
    I just don’t beleive that there isn’t a single leak in Chinese media. Previous “secret visits” by Kim Jong-il to China were eventually leaked to the press by restaurant waitresses (Quanjude Peking Duck restaurant in Beijing) and hotel workers (Shanghai) who witnessed the Dear Leader.
    A Guangdong factory worker could make a lot of money by talking to Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper about Kim Jong-Un’s visit, and could probably retire with just a single cell phone photo sold to the highest bidder.


  4. In the “we’ll never know” department: It would have been very, very interesting to see how things would have been handled if the assassination attempt were true and had been successful.

    Would have been covered up by both China and NK — and the eldest son would have gone the way of the Bundy cousin Seven in Married With Children?

    Would they have blamed it on a mugger? Home invasion? like the mafia try to make it look?

    Or, would Pyongyang have gladly let the world and other North Koreans blame them? to make the world think NK is truly ruthless and not to be messed with and also as a way to warn high ranking North Koreans that their heads can roll even more easily — if the new future leader of Korea was willing to kill his own brother, how much less effort would it take him to decide to kill you if you don’t show him total loyalty?

    Or even more interesting – would Pyongyang have come out with a big PR campaign blaming the assassination on the CIA? or Japan? or South Korea?….

    …and what would they have done after making such a claim? seek some retribution?

    —- I’m almost sorry the hit wasn’t successful. I’d loved to see how it turned out.



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