The idea to form a North Korean government in exile has emerged among some defectors amid speculation that a war may be unavoidable on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea’s intensified provocation pit the country against the rest of the world. Some NK defectors tried to motivate some members of the Kim family to participate in. I will explain within the next lines, why I consider it as a discussing idea.
Several NK defectors are dealing with this issue: Ri Jong-ho (a former senior-level official of North Korea’s secretive Office 39 – defected in 2014), Thae Yong-ho (a former diplomat of the NK embassy in London – defected in 2016), Ahn Chan-il (a former soldier of the NK army – defected in 1979), Kim Ju-il (a former NK official – unknown date of defection).
All of them are trying to attract members of the Kim family to this new government. Approaches were done toward Kim Jong-nam (in the mid 2010’s), and Kim Pyong-il (after 2015), but both refused to participate. Reasons for their refusal are obvious. Both belong to the Kim system and were conscious that these kind of interactions were dangerous for their lifes. For instance, until his death, Kim Pyong-il was on regular touch with Kim Jong-il. Kim Jong-nam also used to meet his father Kim Jong-il, in spite of the disapproval of Kim Jong-un.
Furthermore, Kim Jong-nam would have been a person with higher skills in this government than Kim Pyong-il, who is only a diplomat, acting sometimes in some financial issues. Concerning Kim Jong-nam, he was involved in state affairs (at the difference of Kim Pyong-il), that’s why an invitation toward him was justified. On the other side, being out of NK, Kim Jong-nam was more known for being a casino visitor, than a defender of NK human rights. Therefore, why was he invited to the government in exile?
In other words, if NK organization want really to invite Kim Pyong-il to this government, they shall arrange for him a kind of gold defection, with a golden parachute in the new country where he would live. His security shall be also ensured for him and his family. This may be too hard to be done as his family is partially living in Pyongyang and consequently they won’t be able to defect, as they can’t travel abroad without authorization and the obtention of a visa from a embassy based in Pyongyang. Then we can add that a defection can be organized in partnership with a foreign country, interested in Korean Affairs. Many defections were co-sponsored by Governmental organizations (The USA, Switzerland, and the Netherlands), therefore representatives of these countries may participate to the elaboration of this government-in-exile. But firstly, those who shall belong to this government must be chose with adequacy. In my humble opinion,in spite of his skills, Kim Pyong-il is surely not a good target. I would rather recommend NK senior defectors to participate to this government, such as Ko Young-hwan, a former member of the NK diplomatic corps, who defected in the 1990’s.
Kim Han-sol, the son of Kim Jong-nam may be incorporated in this government, not as a member of the Kim family, but as a person with strong analytical skills, a high proficiency in foreign languages. But on the other side, his knowledge of NK affairs may be limited, as during the last 10 years, he was back to Pyongyang only on a seldom basis.
In a nutshell, those who should be incorporated in this government-in-exile should respond to the three following elements. First, potential candidates must own some skills determined by objective organizations. These features must incorporate a knowledge of foreign languaes, abilities to deal with the International Community, being in possession of a large number of contacts…Secondly these people, should have a good understanding of contemporary NK affairs. Thirdly, potential candidates shall have been not involved to a large extent in « dirty affairs » of the NK leadership, including the trade of nuclear weapons, etc. This condition will be difficult to fulfill.
Finally this government in exile can consist of people who may take the power over the Northern Part of the Korean Peninsula, but does it mean that they would like to be reunified with the South? Im not entirely sure..