Kim Jong-il’s grandson supports unified Korea in TV interview

17-year-old Kim Han-sol offers a rare look into North Korean dictatorship

The grandson of deceased North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il supports a unified Korea, the teen said in an interview with former United Nations under-secretary general Elisabeth Rehn, which aired on a Finnish television station.

Kim Han-sol, a 17-year-old who is attending an international university in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, tells Rehn, in nearly unaccented English, that he was born in North Korea, but moved to Macau, China, when he was very young and that he never met his grandfather, even though he wanted to.

“That was actually one thing that I wanted to do before he passed away. I was really curious myself,” Han-sol says.

Han-sol says he hasn’t met his uncle, current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, either. Han-sol is the son of Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-il’s eldest son, who fell out of favour with his father, leading the former dictator to appoint his youngest son as the next leader instead.

Han-sol says both his mother and his father taught him to think for himself and to be thankful for what he has in life. His upbringing has allowed him to make South Korean friends, he says.

“We shared stories from back home and realized how similar we are,” he says. “Same language, same culture. It’s just political issues that divide the nation in half and now, today, I have really close friends and we travel together, and it’s such a wonderful feeling.”

Han-sol says he dreams of going back to North Korea after school to make a difference and to make life easier for people there.

“I also dream of unification because it’s really sad that I can’t go to the other side and see my friends over there,” he says. “It’s a really sad story because my friends would say, like, it would be really great to just take a bus or something, just to South Korea or North Korea, and meet each other at some point, but that’s one of the dreams.”

The full interview has been posted to Youtube.

Part 1

(English interview begins at 1:35)

Part 2

Han-sol’s dreams however, seem a long way off. On Friday, North Korea threatened to attack South Korea after anti-Pyongyang activists announced plans to launch leaflets into North Korea using balloons.

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