Kim Han-sol is at risk, says defector ThaeThe son of Kim Jong-nam, the recently assassinated half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, may be the next target, Japanese news reports quoted a former high-level North Korean diplomat as saying Thursday.
“Behind it all, there’s Kim Jong-un’s desire to solidify his legitimacy as the leader,” Japanese new outlets quoted Thae Yong-ho, previously minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, as having said in a meeting with Japanese correspondents in Seoul a day earlier.
Thae was referring to the shocking assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of the North Korean leader, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia on Feb. 13.
“Kim Jong-nam had been the biggest obstacle for Chairman Kim’s pursuit of long-term power in North Korean society, [which is] heavily influenced by Confucian culture,” he said. “Kim Jong-nam’s acceptance of foreign media interviews increased the possibility of his presence being known inside North Korea, burdening Kim Jong-un.”
Kim Han-sol, the 22-year-old son of Kim Jong-nam, too, “is a being that cannot be tolerated from the perspective of Kim Jong-un,” Thae said. “It remains to be seen how possible his survival would be.”
Thae’s comments were reported one day after Kim Han-sol appeared online from an unidentified location. In a 40-second YouTube video, the black-clad young man said he is currently with his mother and sister, without disclosing their whereabouts. South Korea’s spy agency verified him as Kim Jong-nam’s son.
The Malaysian government has called on the family of Kim Jong-nam to come forward and retrieve his body, now kept in Kuala Lumpur, but no one has claimed the body, apparently because of assassination fears.
Referring to North Korea’s multiple missile launches on Monday that targeted American bases in Japan, Thae said they seemed to have been designed to solicit military aid from China.
North Korea wants to secure tangible military assistance from China in order to prepare against possible Japanese attacks that could be launched in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula, he said.
“China will automatically step in if South Korea, the U.S. and Japan join the war. North Korea is now trying to get solid military support (from China) as they did during the Korean War,” he noted.