North Korea: The Soap Opera

Fearless leader in North Korea wastes a lot of money on his birthday celebrations…pay no attention to those starving people behind the curtain…

The article contains this interesting detail:” (his oldest son) Jong-nam ruined his chances (to succeed his father) in 2001, when Japanese officials caught him trying to sneak into Japan using a false passport…”

Hmmm…was he fleeing his father? Looking for his girlfriend? Planning to spy for NK? and why does he live in Macau?

Apparantly “the Little General” is a software engineer, and in charge of that country’s software program, and he wanted to get information on computer technology., and this was not his first visit to Japan.

North Korean software is apparantly thriving. With the help of a South Korean company, they are devising software for fingerprint and voice recognition. And it’s profitable: Samsung paid over 700 thousand dollars for five software programs for their computers, and another businessman paid a million US dollars for another program.

Yet after Kim the Little General was caught at a Japanese airport with a fake passport, he fell out of favor with his father. And therein lies a tale…

The entire Kim family sounds like it comes from the script of Dynasty.
Kim the Fearless leader has seven children from four concubines or wives

His first wife had one daughter, and then was appointed a minister of education.
The second wife, an actress, Song Hye-rim, was five years older than her husband. They had one son, the Little General. Reported to be tired of her husbands sexual affairs, she left him, moved to Moscow and died there in 2002.

In1974 he married Kim Yong-suk, the daughter of a high-ranking military official. But she had only two daughters and no sons.
He then married a dancer. Ko Young Hee was actually born in Koreatown near Osaka Japan; her father was a karate instructor who moved with other ethnic Koreans to North Korea in the early 1960’s. She gave him two children, both sons: Kim Yong Chol, who I will call Kim the Young child and Kim Yong Oon, who I will call Kim the Youngest son. Like their older brother, they received a western education under false names. She reportedly died of Breast cancer in 2004.

The Little General was always assumed to be the heir to the dynasty. However, when he was caught entering Japan, he had two women with him…it was unclear if one was his wife…and when asked why he came, he said he wanted to visit Disneyland. He had a Dominican passport, with a Chinese name that translates FatBear. The diplomatic fall out from the incident put him into disfavor with his father, and his reported behavior since then doesn’t help: a Japanese magazine reports he has visited Japan several times and spends most of his time with high class prostitutes.

The plot then thickens.

In 2004, he survived an asasination attempt in Austria. Austrian intelligence suspected the plot was to remove him from the succession, in favor of his younger half brothers, Kim the Young young child and Kim the youngest son.

Indeed, a 2003 propaganda campaign bore the slogan “The Respected Mother is the Most Faithful and Loyal Subject to the Dear Leader Comrade Supreme Commander.” Many interpreted this was referring to Ko Young-hee, and was a way to promote her son, Kim Jong-chul, who I will call Kim the YoungChild, to succeed the father Kim. The reason for the assasination attempt might be because it goes against Korean culture for a younger son to inherit the throne, so a dead older brother would be the easiest solution.LINK

FatherKim the Fearless Leader comes from a long lived family (his father died at 82) but he smokes and it is reported that he is diabetic. This complicates matters, since diabetics have a high risk of heart, kidney disease, and amputations. He also is reported to have liver problems form excessive alcohol consumption.

As a doc, I would advise you: Don’t sell him insurance.

Ah, but if the CNN reports is correct, and if Kim the Little General attends his father’s big birthday party suggests that the dynastic problem has not yet been settled. This, of course, makes worries of infighting and instability with the death or serious illness of Kim the father more likely.

This is merely one more complication that could cause a massive humanitarian disaster in the Korean peninsula. Already both South Korea and China worry that famine may result in three million refugees this winter. Who knows how many would flee if a civil war between heirs apparent started.

So there are many questions:

Will Kim the Fearless leader reconcile with his older son the Little General?
Will Kim the Young Child manage to bump off his older brother?Or will he run off and become an Earl Clapton groupie?
Will the third brother, who I haven’t even mentioned, Kim Jon Oon, decide they are all a bunch of idiots and move to San Franciso with his body guard Sam?
Or will Kim the Fearless leader, discover Viagra and beget another son to take over his country?

Or, as the Asia Times wonders: What will happen when these Western-educated and widely traveled computer buffs and Eric Clapton fans take over a failing Stalinist nation?

Tune in next week to DYNASTY in North Korea.
TADAAAH.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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