Kim`s eldest son fears N Korea may collapse: Book

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 22:38

Tokyo: A new book claims that the eldest son
of North Korea`s late leader Kim Jong Il believes the
impoverished regime is in danger of collapse and that his
young half-brother, chosen to lead after Kim`s death, is
merely a figurehead.

The book by Tokyo-based journalist Yoji Gomi went on sale
today. He says it is based primarily on email exchanges he had
with Kim Jong Nam over many years.

The book drew immediate attention as a rare view into the
family that has led the secretive country for decades --
though Kim Jong Nam is thought to be estranged from his family
and the workings of government.

Since Kim Jong Il`s death on December 17, North Korea has
been led by his youngest son, Kim Jong Un.

"Jong Un will just be a figurehead," the book quotes Kim
Jong Nam as saying. It claims he said the collapse of North
Korea`s economy is likely unless it initiates reforms, which
could also bring it down.

"Without reforms and libereralisation, the collapse of
the economy is within sight," he quoted Kim as saying. "But
reforms and opening up could also invite dangers for the
regime."
Gomi, a Tokyo Shimbun journalist who had assignments in
Seoul and Beijing, claims he exchanged 150 emails and has
spent a total of seven hours interviewing Kim Jong Nam, who
was seen as a possible successor until he fell out of favour
with Kim Jong Il in 2001.

Gomi says he met Kim Jong Nam in person in 2004, in
Beijing, and twice last year. Gomi was not immediately
available for comment on the book.

Not long after Kim Jong Il`s funeral, Jong Nam suggested
in an interview with a Japanese TV network that he opposes a
hereditary transfer of power to his young half-brother, who is
believed to be in his late 20s.

That was a rare public sign of discord in the tightly
choreographed succession process, but analysts said Jong Nam
spends so much time outside his native land that his opinion
carries little weight.

Kim Jong Nam, who did not attend the funeral, made
similar comments in his communications with Gomi, the book
claims.

"As a matter of common sense, a transfer to the third
generation is unacceptable," Kim Jong Nam was quoted as saying
in an email dated this month. "The power elite that have ruled
the country will continue to be in control."

He added: "I have my doubts about whether a person with
only two years of grooming as a leader can govern."

Party and military officials have moved quickly to
install Kim Jong Un as "supreme leader" of the people, party
and military.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 22:38

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