Kim Jong Nam denounces his family’s rule

There is one North Korean who enjoys a measure of freedom of speech:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s eldest son says the North should abandon the “Songun” or military first doctrine and pursue reforms and open up. Kim Jong-nam (39), who was passed over for the succession in favor of his 20-something brother, made the remarks in an interview with the Tokyo Shimbun.

He also commented on the North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, referring to the waters surrounding the South Korean island as a “battle zone,” and said there are “forces” in the North Korean regime who are trying to use the attack to justify the Songun doctrine and nuclear weapons.

My first reaction: watch your back. My second reaction: he’s positioning himself to take power in a post-Kim Jong Il era, perhaps as a Chinese-backed Pu Yi figure.

Kim Jong-nam said the currency reform in late 2009 was a “failure.” “I do not believe people’s lives are improving,” he said, adding it is time for North Korea to start reforms and open up.

2 Comments

  1. Your two reactions are just two sides of the same coin, no? Either Jong Nam has got some iron-clad security guarantees in his sky rocket, or he is playing a very high stakes game with his life. The truth, as usual, will be somewhere inbetween… the thing i have noticed is that while what he is saying is incendiary for the North, from the Chinese perspective it couldn’t have been scripted much better if the CPC had done it themselves.

    Hang on a moment…

  2. Either Jong Nam has got some iron-clad security guarantees in his sky rocket, or he is playing a very high stakes game with his life.

    I assume Jong Nam doesn’t want to gamble with his life, but I note that he does seem to enjoy high-rolling in Macau, an expensive hobby. A package deal with the Chinese government would take care of both of those, presumably.

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