Additional consequences of the death of Kim Jong-nam

John, as he liked to be names, otherwise Kim Jong-nam, the oldest son of Kim Jong-il, was murdered last week at the low-cost terminal of Kuala Lumpur airport. I summarized this assasination in this article. 

See below some important conclusions toward the death of Kim Jong-nam.

  1. By killing Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-un is setting up a warning toward other North Korean citizens based abroad.

It’s obviously known that relations between Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-nam were very poor. However it’s not a surprise, as in the Pyongyang community, people are used to say, that Kim Jong-un likes nobody. The death of Kim Jong-nam is only an instrument for Kim Jong-un. The 34 years leader of North Korea is issuing a warning toward North Korean defectors. He’s saying that: if you speak too much, you will finish like Kim Jong-nam. You may be murdered even in a public safe. You’re safe anymore.

Therefore the lifes of Thae Yong-ho (a NK former diplomat who is criticizing the NK regime), Kang Myong-do (a former director at a university under the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces. Step-son of Kang Song-san, former North Korean Prime Minister) or Ko Young-hwan (former director of the African Desk at the DPRK MOA, former first secretary of the North Korean embassy in Congo) are jeopardized. I recommend to the SK government to ensure their securities. I also noted that these NK defectors didn’t comment as of now the death of Kim Jong-nam. Therefore we may conclude that Kim Jong-un may hit everywhere, even in China.

     2. By killing Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-un showed that he’s afraid of China. 

Kim Jong-nam used to spend more time in China than abroad and due to the number of NK  policy officers based in China it would be easier for them to murder « John » in China. However Kim Jong-un was afraid of the reaction of the Chinese regime and he chose Malaysi for two reasons. Firstly it’s a neutral country toward North Korea. Secondly the NK ambassador to Malaysia is also considered as highly loyal to Kim Jong-un. Finally, Kim Jong-un is afraid of China and especially of the consistency regarding the application by the Chinese regime of sanctions toward North Korea.

     3. Kim Jong-nam was never able to grip the power in North Korea.

Some people considers that Kim Jong-nam would change the fate of North Korea. I strongly disagree with this analysis. Kim Jong-nam was never interested in taking the power. For sure he was involved in the management of slush funds of NK (acquisition of foreign currencies through the trading of NK softwares prepared by NK informaticians) however he has nor real connections to the power in NK, neither power basis.  Kim Jong-nam worked also within some structures of the Public Security Department of the KWP. Kim Jong-nam beneficied from the protection of Jang Sung-thaek until his death in 2013. After 2013, Kim Jong-nam felt less secured than in the past.

      4. Kim Jong-nam was never isolated abroad

At the difference of other Kim family members, Kim Jong-nam was not isolated abroad. He remained in touch with the NK community based in foreign countries. He used to participate to parties organized by the NK delegation in Paris and was on a regular touch with SK citizens based in the French capital. His son, Kim Han-sol, is also a nice person and a former regular student of the Institute of Political Sciences of Paris. Han-sol is gentle and communicative toward other students. Kim Jong-nam was under the control of SK authorities in China. They monitored his hand-phone over there.

      5. Kim Jong-nam was caught in Japan in 2001 because he wanted to travel to the Japanese Disneyland.

This official version is untrue. In reality, Kim Jong-nam was supposed to conclude some deals with some Japanese companies dealing with the IT sector. It wasn’t the first visit to Japan of the eldest son of Kim Jong-il, however it was the first time he was caught. Interestingly he came back later to Japan using other passports.

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Nicolas Levi

Analyst on North Korean issues

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