Where the Hell Is North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un’s Eric Clapton-Obsessed Brother, Kim Jong Chul?

The place and why has North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s older half-brother, Kim Jong Chul, disappeared? Contemplating the persistent doubts concerning the well being of Kim Jong Un and his personal behavior of vanishing for weeks at a time—that query assumes some urgency.

If 37-year-old Kim Jong Un have been to die, Jong Chul, 40, by no means an lively contender for energy, could be a major candidate to take over.

“In a succession situation, his identify would certainly be on the desk,” Greg Scarlatoui, government director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, informed The Each day Beast. The multi-tentacle Group and Steering Division of the Staff’ Social gathering—of which Kim Jong Un is chairman—would determine on a successor, leaving it to the coterie of generals and prime occasion officers now surrounding Kim Jong Un to determine on coverage.

“The Kim household are godlike figures. In North Korea crucial qualification is to be a member of the family.”

There would, stated Scarlatoui, “be pluses being a direct descendant of the Paektu bloodline”—a reference to the Korean peninsula’s highest peak the place Kim Jong Il, by North Korean mystique, was born in 1941 in a log cabin—“and minuses, his obvious ‘weak spot’ in comparison with his brother.” That stated, he noticed, “There has all the time been a symbiosis between the Staff’ Social gathering and the Kim household regime.”

It was solely after long-ruling Kim Jong Il deemed elder son Jong Chul “too effeminate,” in keeping with Kim’s Japanese sushi chef, Kenji Fujimoto, that he designated youthful brother Jong Un as successor roughly a 12 months earlier than dying in 2011. Ever since, it seems as if Jong Chul has been conserving his head down, playing his guitar with friends in ultra-secret surroundings in Pyongyang whereas Kim Jong Un makes unmistakably clear that he’s the boss and heads will roll if anybody will get out of line.

Nonetheless, the elevation of Kim Jong Chul “is a really possible situation,” Choi Jin-wook, president of the Heart for Strategic and Cultural Research in Seoul, informed The Each day Beast. “The Kim household are godlike figures. In North Korea crucial qualification is to be a member of the family.”

That qualification is so important that in February 2017, Kim Jong Un ordered the assassination of his 44-year-old oldest brother—and potential rival—Kim Jong Nam. Residing in exile in Macau, a former Portuguese colony on the Chinese language coast, Jong Nam had aroused Jong Un’s paranoid fears by criticizing Kim dynastic rule. After he had checked in for a flight from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, two younger ladies smeared his face with what North Korean operatives had informed the ladies, one from Vietnam, the opposite from Indonesia, was water, however was truly a VX chemical nerve agent concocted in Pyongyang.

Kim Jong Chul, not seen publicly in Pyongyang throughout Kim Jong Un’s rule, was final noticed in Might 2015 attending an Eric Clapton concert on the Royal Albert Corridor in London. A veritable Clapton groupie, he had additionally attended his live shows in Germany in 2006 and in Singapore in 2011. Thae Yong Ho, then North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the UK, who defected to South Korea in 2016, has stated he personally organized for the go to, together with two nights of Clapton exhibits and a luxurious resort costing greater than $3,000 an evening.

Ko Yong Hui, Kim Jong Il’s third spouse or consort and mom of Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Chul, and youthful sister Kim Yo Jong, died of breast most cancers in Paris in 2004. The diploma to which Jong Un is repressing Jong Chul, conserving him beneath wraps, watched and guarded, just isn’t clear, however Thae has stated he’s dwelling quietly in Pyongyang.

“Kim Jong Chol stays out of the political limelight and within the shadows in Pyongyang,” Evans Revere, a former U.S. senior diplomat in Seoul, informed The Each day Beast. “He’s reportedly free to play his guitars and jam with buddies.”

In North Korea, bloodline is what counts. “With out having any energy, sure, Kim Jong Chul might take the titles. If Jong Chul doesn’t make bother, no one hates him,” Kim Tae-woo, former president of the Korea Institute for Nationwide Unification, stated in an interview with The Each day Beast.

However what about Kim Yo Jong, the 34-year-old youthful sister? Typically outspoken, she ranks second to Kim Jong Un in precise energy. Yo Jong “has performed the position of second man,” stated Kim Tae-woo, however she’s “already infamous in South Korea for her insulting feedback” towards South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in for approving army workout routines on computer systems with U.S. forces whereas searching for dialog with the North.

Cautious to take care of whole respect for Kim Jong Un, Yo Jong, answerable for the publicity and data division of the Staff’ Social gathering, was elevated in September to the true middle of energy, the state affairs fee. In a completely male-dominated system, nevertheless, Kim Tae-woo believes her gender counts towards her. Others in North Korea’s internal circle, he stated, wouldn’t desire a lady holding the nation’s prime posts.

Revere, nevertheless, just isn’t so positive. By no means has there been “a touch of extreme ambition on her half,” he stated. “She is unfailingly deferential to Kim Jong Un of their appearances collectively. She additionally ceaselessly speaks out on her personal on key coverage points—which suggests a excessive stage of self-confidence and her assuredness that she will communicate on behalf of her brother and the regime.”

In full distinction, Kim Jong Chul has not been identified to show any need to rule something—a report that may make him a fastidiously innocent selection in internecine infighting that’s inevitable after Jong Un’s departure from the scene. In an setting by which a whole bunch of officers have been annihilated on orders of Jong Un and, earlier than him, Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung, survival relies on taking part in it protected.

Kim Jong Un, moreover wiping out his older half-brother, ordered the general public arrest in December 2018 live on state TV of his uncle, Jang Music Thaek, married to his aunt, Kim Jong Il’s youthful sister.

Glasses askew after a beating, Jang was proven being dragged by guards right into a small courtroom earlier than he was summarily executed. As soon as North Korea’s second highest chief beneath Kim Jong Il, he stood accused of corruption and quite a few different crimes after having made the deadly mistake of wanting to carry actual authority reasonably than merely advising as a humble servant.

Kim Jong Un, who’s acquired each prime title from president to occasion chairman to chairman of the state affairs fee to commander of the armed forces, has ruthlessly consolidated energy at the same time as his well being stays a matter of concern and hypothesis. Judging from images, he’s shed about 20 kilograms, down from 140 kilograms, however that’s nonetheless far too heavy for one who’s simply 5 toes 8 inches.

South Korea’s Nationwide Intelligence Service, aggressively supporting President Moon’s bid for dialog and reconciliation with North Korea, has issued statements saying that doubts about his well being are “groundless.” The NIS has additionally dismissed hypothesis {that a} physique double has been filling in for him once in a while and denounced as “not true in any respect,” addressing a narrative emblazoned final month on the entrance web page of the American grocery store tabloid Globe that Kim Yo Jong had taken over from her brother in a coup.

“Kim Jong Chul wouldn’t make a really efficient chief.”

Nonetheless, the credibility of the NIS, led by Park Jie-won, accused 20 years in the past for his position in payoffs to North Korea to carry concerning the North-South summit in June 2000 between the late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong Il, is open to query. “Moon’s primary goal with regard to North Korea from the start of his presidency,” Bruce Bennett, long-time Korea analyst on the Rand Company, informed The Each day Beast, “has been to ascertain a situation of peaceable coexistence.”

Kim Jong Un’s “great weight reduction,” Bennett added, “raises critical questions on whether or not the photographs we’re seeing are of a number of of Kim’s doubles.” In actual fact, “We don’t even know sufficient to dismiss what in different circumstances may be thought-about ridiculous solutions. By failing to be open and with their historical past of utilizing doubles, there’ll virtually definitely be periodic hypothesis about issues within the North Korean management.”

Yet one more difficulty is whether or not Kim Jong Chul, have been he to emerge as a figurehead, might win the respect befitting the titles, nevertheless empty, that may fall to him.

“Kim Jong Chul wouldn’t make a really efficient chief—he definitely wouldn’t be directing the Politburo and related conferences the best way Kim Jong Un does,” stated Bennett. “In fact, the North might use a physique double of him to take care of look whereas Kim Yo Jong dominated.”

Kenji Fujimoto, who satiated the culinary tastes of the Kim household for years, defined in a memoir why Kim Jong Il eradicated Kim Jong Chul from the succession. The child, Fujimoto quoted Jong Il as saying, was “like a woman.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/where-the-hell-is-north-korean-leader-kim-jong-uns-eric-clapton-obsessed-brother-kim-jong-chul?supply=articles&through=rss | The place the Hell Is North Korean Chief Kim Jong Un’s Eric Clapton-Obsessed Brother, Kim Jong Chul?


ClareFora is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. ClareFora joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: clarefora@interreviewed.com.

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