by the Flying Dutchman
15th May, 2018
[dropcap]K[/dropcap]im Jong-nam was the eldest son of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il and from roughly 1994 to 2001, he was considered the heir apparent to his father. However, he was thought to have fallen out of favor of the North Korean regime when a failed attempt to visit Tokyo Disneyland with a false passport led to his arrest in Japan and deportation to China in 2001.
He was therefore passed over for the North Korean leadership and his life since the early 2000s had been spent in exile. In February 2017, Kim Jong-nam died in Malaysia in what is believed was an assassination carried out by the North Korean regime. When Kim Jong-nam died, his son, Kim Han-sol, came into the spotlight for his open-minded views.
Han-sol has referred to his uncle as a “dictator” and also expressed hope for peace between the two Koreas. In a 2012 interview for Finnish television, he said: “I’ve always dreamed that one day I would go back and make things better, and make things easier for the people back there. I also dream of unification.”
But where does his progressive standpoints come from? His father frequently spoke out against his family’s dynastic control of the North, so it is perhaps no surprise that his son also became known for his open-minded views. It could also be his time in the UWC movement. In 2011, Han-sol had been accepted to Li Po Chun United World College to study in Hong Kong. Later, however, he was denied a student visa by the Hong Kong government. In late 2011, due to an admissions announcement by UWC Mostar, it was discovered by the South Korean media that one of the newly admitted students to the college was Kim Han-sol, about whom very little had been previously known.
At UWC Mostar in Bosnia, Al Jazeera interviewed Kim Han-Sol, where the student said that he became more exposed to different cultures and opinions at UWC.
He added that he had made friends with Americans and South Koreans. “These are countries which we have been having conflicts with and a lot of tension, but we turned out to be really great friends. That just sparked the curiosity for me,” he said.
Watch the New York Times’ video about Kim Han-Sol