North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KJI Behind Closed Doors


It was pointed out to me, and I agree, that health rumors and medical treatments about North Korean elites are difficult to verify, and connected to the wrong individuals.


Sunny Lee, a journalist who has contributed many great reports about North Korean elites over the years, has an excellent report in UAE’s The National about an installment series of blog posts from Nambuk Story.  Nambuk Story is run by DPRK defector Joo Sung-ha.  The series of posts are a series of interviews Mr. Joo conducted with Mi-hyang, another defector, who was recruited and worked in Kim Jong-il’s so-called Pleasure Squad.  These posts represent the first credible accounts of General-Secretary Kim’s private life since the publication of Kenji Fujimoto’s memoirs.

The Pleasure Squad is part of the Fifth Section of Cadres subordinate to General-Secretary Kim’s Personal Secretariat.  It consists of women under the age of 25 who provide massages, sexual favors and entertainment to General-Secretary Kim and other North Korean elites.  Mi-hyang says that she was recruited at age 15 in her school, subjected to a vetting process.  After a six-month training course she was personally selected by General-Secretary Kim who changed her name, “He said my original name sounded like a countryside girl and gave me a new name, ‘Mi Hyang’, which has since been registered in all my official records.”

Mi-hyang said of Kim Jong-il:

His favourite delicacy contains the reproductive organ of sharks. He has a number of private residences around the capital city, some equipped with a 50-metre-long underground swimming pool. Mr Kim is known to be irascible towards his aides, but is surprisingly caring towards his private female attendants. He likes listening to Russian and Japanese music, but he is not a very good singer. He is good at hunting and often cooks the pheasants that he shoots.


When I first met Kim Jong Il, he looked so normal … like a next-door neighbour. He has many brown spots on his face. His teeth were yellowish. My previous fancy about the great leader was shattered at that very moment, but he was very considerate towards me.

An purported photo of Fifth Section Cadre recruits, taken at a KISYL chapter in Pyongyang.

Fifth Section Cadres performances (above and below)

Meanwhile, Sankei Shimbun reports that Kim Jong-il is presently receiving kidney dialysis treatments due to diabetes, according to Sankei‘s Japanese government sources.  General-Secretary Kim’s health is otherwise reported as being quite good, and that accounts of kidney dialysis originated in the Fall of 2009.  It is also reported that prior to visits by high profile foreigners such as former US President Bill Clinton and Wen Jiabao, General-Secretary Kim undergoes dialysis.

When South Korea’s Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun visited North Korea in mid-August in 2009, she had to stay in Pyongyang for few days before meeting Kim Jong Il. “He [Kim] appears to have kept her waiting, because he has other diseases and therefore the day for his dialysis treatment cannot be specified,” (according to a South Korean source). Kim dined with Hyun Jeong-eun, and he reportedly drank wine and smoked tobacco.

Specialists have pointed out the possibility of Kim Jong Il having kidney failure caused by complications of diabetes. If, after care, such as strict dietary therapy for complications, does not go well, his health condition may take a sudden turn for the worse.

The status of General-Secretary Kim’s health is nearly impossible to verify, and has been scrutinized by many a moronic media personality with airtime to fill.  If this report is accurate, however, it would explain the supposed acceleration of the succession process.

General-Secretary Kim grinning during an inspection of the September General Iron Enterprise (Photo: KCNA).


This article was written on 29 Jan 2010, and is filled under Kim Jong-il, KJI Personal Secretariat.

An affiliate of 38 North