North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Is KJI Bequeathing the Family Fortune to Jong Un?

Ri Chol at the UN in Geneva on 7 December 2009. The former DPRK ambassador was recalled to Pyongyang in March of this year and is reportedly managing the transfer of Kim Jong Il's significant personal funds to his son and hereditary successor, Kim Jong Un (Photo: Yonhap)

According to Open Radio for North Korea and RFA, Kim Jong Il is currently in the process of transferring significant monies to his son and hereditary successor, Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n; Kim Jong Eun).  Ri Chol, who was the country’s ambassador to Switzerland and the UN Mission Geneva, is said to be ensuring the funds are transferred to Jong Un.  Ri was recalled to the DPRK in March of this year, and took a position in the Personal Secretariat (he does hold and use the title of Deputy [Vice] Director of the Organization Guidance Department).  He has been responsible for the care and education of Kim Jong Il’s children that have studied in Europe, including Jong Un.  He also was the DPRK’s regional diplomatic boss in the EU, and DPRK elites based in Europe (including extended members of the Kim Family) were beholden to Ri.

This is not the first report of the Third Floor and the court economy passing to the Third Generation.  Perhaps Kim Jong Un will use some of the money on party favors (perhaps swag bags) for the 3rd Party Conference in September.

AFP reports:

North Korea’s ailing leader Kim Jong-Il is transferring his secret personal wealth to his youngest son and likely successor, a Seoul-based radio station said Wednesday.The transfer of money has been managed by Ri Chol, who stepped down in April as the communist country’s ambassador to Switzerland, said Open Radio for North Korea, which specialises in North Korean news.

Ri has been considered one of Kim’s closest aides and looks after his secret funds abroad, it said. The US-based Radio Free Asia carried a similar report about the transfer of money.

Analysts say Kim’s personal funds have been dwindling because of economic difficulties and tightened international sanctions on the reclusive communist state.

Kim Jong Un

Meanwhile, Luxembourg has announced that will comply with financial sanctions against DPRK bank accounts in the European country.  Luxembourg is alleged to be one country where Kim Family funds were deposited after significant sums were withdrawn from banks Switzerland.  Chosun Ilbo reports:

Luxembourg has promised to cooperate with UN and U.S. financial sanctions against North Korea, Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday.

A spokesman for Luxembourg’s Finance Ministry told RFA that the country is closely watching for any illegal activities by the North using offshore accounts and will take “appropriate legal steps” if it finds them.

He claimed Luxembourg regularly updates domestic laws in accordance with international norms to monitor and punish those involved in illegal activities.

The country is committed to implementing sanctions against the North under UN Security Council Resolution 1874, he added.

In March, the Daily Telegraph said North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has a US$4 billion slush fund stashed away abroad in case he has to flee the North. Kim’s operatives “withdrew the money — in cash, in order not to leave a paper trail — and transferred it to banks in Luxembourg,” it said.

But at the time, the office of the grand duchy’s prime minister said it had no information about North Korean financial assets and there was no need to check. Although Luxembourg is a member of the EU, it is not easy to keep track of bank accounts there because it has a different bank payment and settlement system from other members.

An affiliate of 38 North