January 31, 2011 11:40
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's eldest son says the North should abandon the "Songun" or military first doctrine and pursue reforms and open up. Kim Jong-nam (39), who was passed over for the succession in favor of his 20-something brother, made the remarks in an interview with the Tokyo Shimbun.
He also commented on the North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, referring to the waters surrounding the South Korean island as a "battle zone," and said there are "forces" in the North Korean regime who are trying to use the attack to justify the Songun doctrine and nuclear weapons. It is unclear whether his father is part of those "forces," but Kim Jong-nam's comments read like a denunciation of the retrograde hawks taking over key positions within the North Korean regime.
Kim Jong-nam said the currency reform in late 2009 was a "failure." "I do not believe people's lives are improving," he said, adding it is time for North Korea to start reforms and open up.
The hereditary succession of power is being implemented to stabilize the North Korean regime, he claimed. Asked if he thinks the hereditary transfer of power clashes with socialist ideals, Kim Jong-nam said, "Hereditary succession did not happen even under Mao Zedong. It does not fit with socialism and my father was against it."
He said his half brother Jong-un was chosen to succeed his father to "stabilize the framework of the nation." But he warned "Instability in North Korea will lead to instability in the surrounding region."
He urged his young brother to handle inter-Korean relations wisely so that tragedies such as the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island do not happen again. He expressed hope that Kim Jong-un will become a leader respected by his people, adding that he was not trying to challenge or criticize him and that he wished the North could stabilize politically and recover economically.
The Japanese daily said the interview took place in the middle of the month in southern China but did not say exactly where and when. The paper described him as "casual and easy-going."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com