Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's grandson Han-sol appeared on a Finnish TV last Monday. The teenager called the Libyan uprising, which overthrew Muammar Gaddafi's dictatorial regime last year, "very interesting."
Kim Jong-il died last December and Han-sol's father, Kim Jong-nam, recently disappeared from public view.
Han-sol (17) left Macau last year to board at United World College, an international school in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. During the interview with the Finnish public network YLE TV he said his roommate is from Libya.
"Especially the revolution... when that happened, [the roommate] was really enthusiastic about telling me many stories. He would tell me stories about what he was doing during the revolution," Han-sol said. "He went home and saw a different Libya, the transition process of the new Libya. It was very interesting."
The interview, which was edited down to 29 minutes segment, was aired in Finland on Monday. It was the first time Han-sol has given such a long interview.
Appearing before the camera in a pair of black horn-rimmed glasses, a black tie and suit, he spoke English fluently. He sported two little earrings on his left earlobe.
The interview was conducted by Elisabeth Rehn (77), Finland's first female defense minister, who hosts the show the segment was part of.
Talking about Kim Jong-il, Han-sol said, "I never really met him or had conversation with him." He admitted he was "really curious" about the notoriously reclusive leader. "I really didn't know if he knew that I existed," so he was waiting for his grandfather to look for him. "I was hoping that he will come find me."
As a child, "I always wanted to meet my grandfather because I wanted to know what kind of person" he was, Han-sol said. "I really didn't get to know until later on that my grandfather was a leader" in North Korea, he added.
The teenager has also never met his uncle, current leader Kim Jong-un. "I really never met them... I really don't know how he became a dictator, because, first of all, it was between him and my grandfather. I never met both of them." He added his father "was definitely not really interested in politics."
Han-sol was born in Pyongyang in 1995 and lived there for two years before his family moved to Macau. Afterwards, he visited the North to meet relatives at every opportunity, including summer, but he has few friends there.
When asked if his mother is also from a privileged family, Han-sol said, "She was actually just an ordinary citizen in North Korea." He added, "My mom always tried to encourage me to live the same lifestyle as ordinary citizens so I can have better understanding of the people."
"My dad always told me just forget about the background and everything and live your life and understand everything, there are a lot of people who're hungry. Always think twice and be thankful for what you have right now," he added.
He had some friends from South Korea in Macau. It was awkward meeting them at first, but "then little by little we started understanding each other," he said. "We realized how similar we are, same language, same culture... Now today we are really close friends, travel together. It's such a wonderful feeling."
Talking about a South Korean student who will arrive at the UWC next year, he said. "It's gonna [be] very interesting."
On the Korean issue, Han-sol said, "The two countries are trying to work to build peace together for unification. But at the same time there are laws that say North and South Koreans shouldn't interact with each other even outside North Korea."
"It's really sad that I can't go to the other side and see my friends over there," he said. "I also dream of unification."
Asked about his future plans, he said, "For me, I picture myself continuing my education at the United World College. After university I picture myself volunteering somewhere. After that I'd like to engage in more humanitarian projects and also work to contribute to building world peace, and especially back home, because that's a really important part of me."