North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Saetpyol’s School Recital

DPRK hereditary successor, Kim Jong Un (C) plays a tambourine during a February 1998 school music recital in Switzerland (Photo: Yomiuri Shimbun)

Home video imagery of a 15-year old Kim Jong Un (Kim Jong Eun; Kim Ch’ong-u’n)   has appeared in the East Asian press.  The home video depicts Jong Un unenthusiastically participating in a music recital in Feburary 1998 at a Swiss school in Berne.  The video was captured by the mother of one of Jong Un’s classmates, and recently obtained by Yomiuri Shimbun.  The video also depicts a young woman who may be Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, who also studied in Switzerland.

Because of problems apprehending the German language, Kim Jong Un was held back two grades.  At the time of this footage Jong Un should have been in 8th or 9th grade, but was enrolled in 6th grade courses and activities with students who were 12 and 13 years old.  Kim Jong Un reportedly was a quiet student, not disposed to activities such as playing the tambourine at a school recital.

Kim Jong Un attended the International School of Berne in Swizterland in the 1990s, along with his older brother, Kim Jong Chol and his younger sister, Yo Jong.  All of KJI’s children attended school in Europe under pseudonyms (Kim Jong Un was known as Pak Un), and they were introduced as the children of Berne-based DPRK diplomatic personnel.  The children reportedly stayed with their mother, Ko Yong Hui, who received medical treatment in France and Swizterland during the 1990s (she eventually died of cancer in 2004).


This article was written on 14 Sep 2010, and is filled under Kim Family, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un.

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