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Wednesday, October 12, 2011     GET REAL

Facebook postings by exiled son of Kim Jong-Il shed light on palace intrigue back home

By Lee Jong-Heon, special from

The Facebook pages of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s exiled oldest son and grandson have exposed the dysfunctional inner workings of the dynasty and brewing feuds within the communist royal family. Kim Jong-Nam, the first son of Kim Jong-Il, posted digitally-altered photos on his Facebook page, ridiculing his father and the ruling elite.


Facebook photos of 16-year-old Kim Han-Sol, the son of Kim Jong-Il's exiled eldest son, Kim Jong-Nam.     Yonhap
One photo posted on his Facebook page shows Kim Jong-Il and his youngest son and heir-apparent Kim Jong-Un clapping their hands in the reviewing stand during a military parade, with the caption: “Clap or we get slapped.”

The Facebook page also includes a poster of the animated movie “Kung Fu Panda” with Kim Jong-Un’s chubby face pasted on it, and posts insulting his younger half-brother and photoshopped images ridiculing his father.

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Kim Jong-Nam uses the Facebook name “Kim Chol”, a pseudonym he also uses for hotel reservations when travelling to China, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Facebook, Twitter and other social network sites of Kim Jong-Nam and his 16-year-old son Kim Han-Sol, were publicized over the past week by South Korea’s media, including top newspaper Chosun Ilbo and government-sponsored Yonhap News Agency.

Kim Jong-Nam, 40, was once considered to be the North’s next leader as the first son of its supreme leader, but he lost out in a family power struggle to his younger half-brother Jong-Un.

Jong-Nam fell out of favor apparently for his maverick lifestyle. He was also caught trying to slip into Japan on a fake Dominican passport, allegedly to go to Disneyland in 2001, an incident that caused Pyongyang severe diplomatic embarrassment.

Since then Jong-Nam has been living overseas apparently in exile, primarily in China and Macau.

According to Seoul’s top newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, Jong-Nam has survived assassination attempts by Jong-Un who was positioned in September last year as the heir apparent by his father.

But some analysts say Kim, as the first son of the leader, is still favored in North Korea, where Confucian traditions that honor seniority still hold sway. According to sources close to the North, there are still many supporters of Jong-Nam within the regime’s power network.

Jong-Nam has also been backed by China in the leadership race, the source said, noting that China could attempt to march into North Korea and install Jong-Nam as the ruler in case the upcoming Kim Jong-Un regime collapses.

Jong-Nam’s son, Kim Han-Sol has also posted a series of comments critical of his communist homeland and grandfather’s dictatorship.

In a 2007 YouTube posting, Han-Sol apologized to his compatriots for their hunger, indirect criticizing his grandfather’s leadership, according to Yonhap.

“Actually I eat like an average person, I can’t eat even if I had good food, cuz (because) like I feel sorry for my ppl (people). I know my people are hungry, I’d do anything to help them,” he said in the posting provided by Yonhap. The posting was made by his nickname of “gliango” used by Kim Han-Sol, it said.

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