Kim Jong Nam has revealed in a new interview that Kim Jong Il was “always against the third generation succession.”
“Even Premier Mao Zedong didn’t hand down power. It doesn’t fit with socialism, and my father too was against it,” Kim Jong Il’s eldest son told Tokyo Shimbun today, explaining that hereditary succession is unavoidable now “for the stability of the nation’s system.”
“I hope,” Kim went on, “that (Kim Jong Eun) will accede to my father’s achievements and make the people affluent. I hope that North-South relations will be adjusted so that tragedies like the Yeonpyeong Island shelling don’t happen.”
“It would be good,” he added, “if he became a leader whom the people can respect.”
Elsewhere, Kim also moved to deny the existence of a rift between himself and the Pyongyang regime which has led to suggestions that his life might be at risk, saying that the rumors are “groundless” and asserting that he occasionally offers his opinion to Kim Jong Il.
“I have never felt in any danger,” Kim reportedly said.
Always outspoken, Kim also explained why he believes North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, saying, “Our national strength comes from nuclear weapons, and as long as confrontation with the United States continues, the likelihood of giving them up is low.”
In a connected comment, Kim said that in his view the Yeonpyeong Island shelling happened both so as to emphasize the image of the area as one in conflict but also to “validate the justification for Military-first politics and the possession of nuclear weapons.”
Finally, Kim also expressed his support for profound changes in North Korea, pointing out, “The currency reform was a failure” and adding, “We need to take more interest in reform and opening. North Korea cannot become an economically powerful country in the current situation. North Korea hopes the most for the normalization of relations with the U.S. and the establishment of Korean Peninsula peace. After that, genuine economic reconstruction can begin.”
“I hope that North Korea becomes more secure and that the economy recovers,” Kim concluded, but was quick to add, “This is neither a challenge to my younger brother nor a complaint.”
This is not the first time Kim Jong Nam has expressed opposition to the third generation succession. In an interview with Japan’s TV Asahi on October 9th last year, the day before the celebration of the founding day of the Chosun Workers’ Party last year, he said that he was personally opposed to the succession, but added that “I believe there must have been good reasons for it internally, and as long as there are reasons, I think we have to follow them.”