North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Jong Nam Interview

Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, waves as he leaves his first-ever interview with South Korean media. JoongAng Daily

Kim Jong Nam, eldest son and aide of KJI, told a South Korean journalist that he has no plans to move to Europe and that his father  is “doing well” with regard to his health.  When asked about the Cheonan, Mr. Kim said, “Cheonan?  I don’t know.  Please stop.”  Kim Jong Nam’s remarks were made to a reporter at a Macau hotel on Friday (4 June) for a brief interaction that JoongAng Ilbo described as Kim Jong Nam’s “first-ever interview to South Korean reporters.”

Although Kim Jong-nam said little in the brief exchange, he denied rumors that he has been trying to seek refuge in Europe since allegedly coming under threat of assassination after losing a power struggle to his younger brother Kim Jong-un last year.

“I have no plans on moving to Europe. Why would I?” he said. “I could go there for a vacation, but I think you have only heard rumors.”

A JoongAng Sunday reporter confronted Jong-nam, 39, in the 10th-floor elevator bank of the Altira Hotel after a late-morning meal with an unidentified woman, who looked to be a Korean in her 20s. He had previously given interviews to the Hong Kong and Japanese press, but for South Korean media it was a first.

Jong-nam appeared cool as he allowed his picture to be taken, blue Ferragamo loafers and all. But he kept the talk and his answers short.

Asked how he had been, he said, “Fine, now are you satisfied?”

As to rumors that he had been telling people in Macau that heir-apparent Kim Jong-un, who was born in 1984 (although North Korean media last year reported he was born in 1982), is the son of one of his father’s mistresses, and thus should be out of the line of succession, he replied “I do not have any idea of what you just said.”

His father’s health, he said, is “doing well,” and when asked about the Cheonan, he said “Cheonan? I do not know. Please stop.”

Kim Jong-nam abruptly ended the interview when he was asked about rumors of a crackdown last year on a safe house in Pyongyang where secret political meetings were supposedly held. With a smile and a wave, he backed through the elevator doors.


This article was written on 07 Jun 2010, and is filled under Jang Song-thaek, Kim Family, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, KJI Personal Secretariat, leadership succession, social control, succession, Third Floor.

An affiliate of 38 North