It’s been a very public few days for Kim Jong Il’s 16-year-old grandson, Kim Han Sol.
On Friday, the United World College’s (UWC) Bosnia-Herzegovina campus, one of 13 UWC international schools globally, announced Kim Han Sol’s acceptance. Board chairman David Sutcliffe explained that the decision "understandably generated surprise and comment, some of it critical." But, echoing the school’s mission statement, he went on to say that the UWCs "exist in order to cross new frontiers in international education.… The opportunity of taking a first step in bringing North Korea into the international community, through youth, is one to be cherished."
Three days after the UWC announcement, the Korean Daily News discovered what’s believed to be Han Sol’s Facebook page as well as the page of his father, Kim Jong Il’s eldest son, Kim Jong Nam. If it is really him, then one picture shows Han sporting dyed blond hair and posing with a girlfriend. His favorite movie, according to the page, is Love Actually. Notably for the grandson of one of the world’s most brutal tyrants, the page includes an encyclopedia definition of democracy. He also reportedly polled his friends on whether they preferred it to communism, as he did.
In this way, Kim Han Sol would resemble his father, whose talk of reform within North Korea (and being caught with a fake passport with the name "Fat Bear" en route to Tokyo Disney Land) cost him his position in line for the throne. Kim Jong Nam has lived in exile in China and Macau since 2001. What’s believed to be his own Facebook page criticizes both his father and the North Korean establishment including his half brother, heir apparent Kim Jong Un.
In any event, it doesn’t seem like there’s much future for Kim Han Sol in the family business.
Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer is assistant managing editor for online at Foreign Policy. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Forbes, among other places. She holds a bachelor's degree from U.C. Berkeley, and master's degrees from Peking University and the London School of Economics. The P.Q. stands for Ping-Quon.| Passport |
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.| Passport |