North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KJI’s Youthful Princes and Princess

Kim Jong Chol (circled) (Photo: Yonhap)

Several photographs of Kim Jong Il’s three youngest children during the times they studied at the International School of Berne have surfaced.  In releasing the photographs, Yonhap reports:

The photos of Kim Jong-un, believed to be now in his late 20s, include one where he is standing among children posing for a group shot against what looks to be a schoolyard.

Kim purportedly spent much of his childhood studying in Berne, Switzerland. One of the photos showed a grinning Kim with his arms around who appeared to his classmate.

The photos, obtained by Yonhap News Agency, are the latest findings in the search for details on the mysterious young man, who outside officials and experts say is being groomed for leadership.

The possibility of him taking over the North in case his ailing father is incapacitated increased on Monday when his uncle was promoted as a vice chairman of the National Defense Commission (NDC), the highest seat of power, during a rare parliamentary session.

Kim Jong Un (Jong Eun/Chong-un) is currently believed to be KJI’s hereditary successor.  Jong Un was born around 1984 (although propaganda may have revised his birth year to 1982), and is KJI’s youngest son.  He is thought to be the son of KJI’s relationship with his 4th wife, the late Korean-Japanese dancer Ko Yong Hui, however there is a rumor that KJU is KJI’s son with his enigmatic administrative secretary Kim Ok.  According to several reports Jong Un has ties to the State Security Department, and is linked to a group of NK elite offspring reportedly headed by one of Gen. O Kuk Ryol’s children.

Kim Jong Un (circled) standing in the center of this group photo (Photo: Yonhap)

Kim Jong Un (Photo: Yonhap)

Kim Jong Chol was born around 1981, and is KJI’s second son.  He has been rumored as one of KJI’s hereditary successors.  He also studied in Berne, and in 2006 attended several Eric Clapton concerts in Germany.  He is also said to be tied to the same group of NK elites’ children as Jong Un.  There are various rumors about Jong Chol’s physical and mental health that allegedly disqualified him for succession, despite reportedly receiving the same international and military education as Jong Un, and Kim Jong Nam.  According to recent reports, Jong Chol works in the CC KWP Propaganda and Agitation Department.

Kim Jong Chol (bottow row 1st L) listed in a yearbook under his alias Chol Pak (Photo: Yonhap)

Kim Yo Jong is Kim Jong Il’s youngest daughter, a child of his 4th wife Ko Yong Hui.  Born around 1989,  she reportedly studied under the alias Kim Jong Sun, and her presence in Switzerland has often been overlooked, in favor of Jong Chol and Jong Un.  Given her age, and her (step-) siblings’ histories, she is likely enrolled at Kim Il Sung University which KJI has visited on several occasions in 2009 and 2010.

Kim Yo Jong (Photo: Yonhap)


This article was written on 10 Jun 2010, and is filled under Kim Family, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un, KJI Personal Secretariat.

An affiliate of 38 North