Grandson of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il draws attention in Bosnia
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REPORTING FROM SEOUL –- He wears hipster oversized glasses, an earring and funky bleached-orange hair, suggesting that a hard-starched military parade is the last event he’d want to attend.
But the seemingly Western-friendly 16-year-old grandson of North Korean strongman Kim Jong Il is getting some worldwide attention these days. Kim Han Sol recently became the new darling of North Korea-watching paparazzi after the South Korean media tracked him days after his enrollment at an international school in Bosnia.
According to what some reporters have gleaned from his Facebook site, Kim says he prefers democracy over communism and longs to help stop the cycle of poverty and starvation in North Korea.
Kim Han Sol reportedly started classes at the United World Colleges’ branch in Mostar after failing to receive a visa to enter a university in Hong Kong. Reporters have since swarmed the school grounds to get a glimpse of the youngest Kim, and school officials have called for a lockdown on outsiders to protect him.
The Associated Press recently quoted him as saying he was happy.
“I love Mostar. I like the food,” he said. “The people here are very nice.”
The teenager’s father, Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of the ailing North Korean ruler, was considered the heir apparent before falling out of favor. Kim Jong Nam’s younger half-brother, Kim Jong Eun, was last year trotted out as his father’s successor.
Whether Kim Han Sol could ever rise to power in the secretive country remains a mystery. It’s also unclear whether his youthful idealism and candor might change in time.
On his Facebook site, Kim sharply defended North Korea against any derision.
Then access to the page became restricted.
North Korean crowds greet father and son Kims with a roar of enthusiasm
North Koreans celebrate newly anointed Kim Jong Eun
-- John M. Glionna