Not everyone is thrilled that North Korea’s new leader is none other than Kim Jong-Eun, who is reported to be all of 28. Case in point: His oldest brother, Kim Jong-Nam. Jong-Nam is quoted extensively in a recent book, candidly criticizing what he sees as shortcomings in his younger brother’s governing and leadership abilities.
So is this a case of fraternal jealousy or a rare glimpse into a young man ill-equipped to lead, a glimpse that North Koreans would be wise to consider if only they were exposed to it? Jong-Nam, it should be remembered, was long considered heir apparent to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
For starters, Jong-Nam reports a true shocker in the book: His father, he claims, was opposed to any kind of third-generation hereditary succession, worrying that “anyone with common sense will see that a transfer of power to the third generation can’t be done.” Next, Jong-Nam flatly predicts that the youthful Jong-Eun won’t be running things for long: The existing power elite will take over and Jong-Eun will morph into no more than a symbolic figure. Says Jong-Nam, with some obvious feeling: “It is questionable how a hereditary successor who has been through (successor) training for only about two years can take over the absolute authority that has continued for 37 years.”
Written by Tokyo-based journalist Yoji Gomi, the book “My Father: Kim Jong-Il, and Me,” is a book based on more than 150 email exchanges and seven hours of interviews with Jong-Nam since they first met in 2004. One email from the obviously upset North Korean to the Japanese journalist predicts economic collapse for his homeland unless urgent reform is undertaken.