A Case of False Identity

A recent report published by current affairs magazine L’Hebdo in Switzerland on the subject of Kim Jong Woon has been revealed to be incorrect and apparently resulted from confusion about the identities of Kim Jong Il’s second and third sons, Kim Jong Cheol and Kim Jong Woon. The publication claimed that Kim Jong Il’s third son and a likely successor-designate Kim Jong Woon went by the alias “Pak Chol” while a student at the International School in Berne, Switzerland.

According to the L’Hebdo report, Jong Woon was also known to have been accompanied by a North Korean student and bodyguard called Moon Gwang Chol during his studies.

The claims were made in an article titled “Apprentice dictator speaks in Germany in the Berne dialect” on the 5th. After stating that Jong Woon used the alias Pak Chol, it cited the words of his then P.E. teacher, who said that “Pak” was shy and introverted but active in the school basketball and swimming teams, and was a good team player.

The publication noted that one of Jong Woon’s schoolmates, who requested anonymity, testified that Gwang Chol had always accompanied “Pak” at Berne and seemed to be a bodyguard. The publication elaborated, saying that Gwang Chol had a good physique and would always play basketball with the other students and “Jong Woon.”

It also mentioned that Gwang Chol was in the same class as Jong Woon and, although older than Kim, looked young in appearance, so it was not an awkward situation.

However, the fact is that the student who used the alias “Pak Chol” was not Jong Woon but Jong Choel. It was revealed by the Japanese publication “Shukan Gendai” (the Weekly Modern) last year when it released an article about Jong Cheol with attached photos of an album of student images. In the album, Jong Cheol’s photo and his name, “Pak Chol, from N. Korea” could be seen.

Further, information regarding Jong Cheol’s North Korean classmate Moon Gwang Chol has already been publicized by Cheong Seong Chang, a North-South relations researcher at Sejong Institute. Cheong explained in a piece from last year, “Jong Cheol attended school with a North Korean student named Moon Gwang Chol. He played the role of bodyguard dispatched from Pyongyang, as well as being Jong Cheol’s friend, secretary, and guardian.”

L’Hebdo commented that the classes at Berne mostly took place in English, and “Jong Woon” was able to quickly acclimatize. He was also known to have studied German and French as well as actively participated in school field trips.

This closely resembles statements made by Mr. David, who was the principal of the school at the time, about Jong Cheol. Researcher Cheong remarked regarding Jong Cheol’s English proficiency, “He was quite fluent by the time he left school. He successfully mastered the course materials, which were taught in English.”

L’Hebdo reported that during the winter, “Jong Woon” went skiing in the Alps every Friday with fellow classmates. The publication also reported that he really liked the basketball superstar Michael Jordan and action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Regarding this “fact,” Cheong noted, “Jong Cheol’s schoolmates testified to the fact that he especially liked action movies, would try to emulate the fight scenes of movies and enjoyed skiing every Friday.”

Indeed, Kim Jong Cheol’s public photos included shots of him playing basketball while sporting the Chicago Bulls uniform.

Cheong explained in a phone conversation with Daily NK on the 23rd, “When I met Kenji Fujimoto who was the Kim Jong Il’s private chef, last December, he said he had heard that Jong Cheol had used the alias ‘Pak Chol.’ Pak comes from the surname of the husband of Ko Young Sook, Jong Cheol’s aunt. He was a diplomat at the time and had served as a parental figure for Jong Cheol during his stay in Switzerland.”

He concluded, “The error in the L’Hebdo report resulted from mistaking Kim Jong Woon and Kim Jong Cheol’s backgrounds.”