Does Kim Jong-nam's Criticism Reflect Chinese View of N.Korea?

      October 14, 2010 09:40

      Speculation is rife that the Chinese government had a hand in arranging an interview North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's eldest son Jong-nam gave Japanese TV last Saturday where the 38-year old said he is against the hereditary succession in the North.

      A diplomatic source on Wednesday said this is suggested by a careful review of the footage and Kim Jong-nam's remarks. Kim Jong-nam lives in virtual exile in Beijing and Macau.

      Although it identified the location as Beijing, TV Asahi blurred the background so as to make identification difficult for safety reasons.

      The interview gives the impression of being prearranged, even though TV Asahi tried to make it look as if it happened spontaneously when the crew bumped into Kim Jong-nam in a street.

      A Japanese journalist asks in Korean, "Kim Jong-nam, I presume," and Kim calmly answers, "Yes." At one stage during the interview, Kim says quietly, "This is off the record."

      Kim without a moment's hesitation used the terms "third-generation hereditary succession" and "North Korea," both the taboo expressions in the North. North Korean officials usually refer to their country as "Democratic People's Republic of Korea," "the Republic" or "Chosun."

      "It would have been difficult for Kim Jong-nam to use such taboo words in a foreign country unless China promised to guarantee his safety," the diplomatic source speculated.

      What Kim said in the interview essentially tallies with China's position. While Beijing sent a high-profile delegation to Pyongyang for the 65th anniversary of the North Korean Workers Party, internally it is unhappy with the hereditary succession.

      "Personally, I'm against the three generations of hereditary succession. But I also think there were internal factors behind the decision, and if it is the case, then we should follow that," Kim said in the interview.

      TV Asahi speculated he was sending a message to China that he would open the North if he were to become the next ruler.

      But the diplomatic source said China was in fact sending an indirect message to the North through Kim Jong-nam.

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