The Korea Herald


Kim brother says N.Korea heading for collapse: book


Published : Jan. 17, 2012 - 16:35

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TOKYO (AFP) - The eldest brother of North Korea's new leader says reforms needed to avert the collapse of the country's economy will lead to the end of its Stalinist regime, according to a book to be published this week.


(Yonhap News) (Yonhap News)

Kim Jong-Nam, the half brother of Kim Jong-Un who took control of the hermit state on the death of their father last month, says the military has become so powerful it will step in and take over.

The comments come in a book by Yoji Gomi, a Japanese journalist who says he built a relationship with Jong-Nam after the pair met in Beijing in 2004.

"North Korea is very unstable," Jong-Nam told Gomi, who interviewed him at length in the Chinese territory of Macau last year.

"My father governed the country with the backing of the military, but the power of the military has become too strong," he said in Korean. "If the succession ends in failure, the military will wield the real power for sure."

In the book, based on email exchanges and interviews, Jong-Nam says North Korea's troubled state-managed economy presented the regime with a dilemma.

"It is obvious that (the) economy will collapse without reforms, but the reforms will lead to a crisis of the collapse of the regime," Jong-Nam said in the interview carried out before the death of his father Kim Jong-Il on December 17.

He also claimed that his inexperienced brother Jong-Un was likely to be merely a symbol used by ruling elites to maintain their grip on power.

"Anyone with normal thinking would find it difficult to tolerate three generations of hereditary succession," he said an email, which Gomi says was sent on January 3.

"I question how a young heir with two years (of training as a successor) would be able to inherit... absolute power," he said.

"It is likely that the existing power elites will succeed my father by keeping the young successor as a symbol."

Jong-Nam has lived in virtual exile in China for many years after falling out of favour with his father, who in turn inherited the rule of the impoverished country from his own father.

Two years ago and with his health rapidly deteriorating, Kim Jong-Il moved Jong-Un -- believed to be in his late 20s -- into the position of designated successor, giving him military posts and raising his profile.

Jong-Nam did not directly respond to questions over whether he attended the elaborate funeral and memorial ceremony for his father, but Japanese media have said he visited Pyongyang after learning about his father's death.

Gomi said Jong-Nam may still take the reins of power in the secretive state with the backing of Beijing, which frets that a collapse in the regime could send millions of starving North Koreans over its border and create nuclear havoc on the peninsula.

"He has been protected by the Chinese side," said Gomi, a senior staff writer at the Tokyo Shimbun who was previously based in Beijing and in Seoul.

"If the Jong-Un regime collapses, (China) appears to be planning to send him to Pyongyang and make him become the next leader," he said.

Gomi said he had decided to go ahead with publishing the book despite requests from Jong-Nam for a delay.

"My father Kim Jong-Il and Me" will be published in Japan by Bungeishunju on Friday.



김정남 "북한 붕괴할 것"


지난해 12월 사망한 김정일 국방위원장의 장남 김정남이 "현재 김정은은 상징적인 존재에 불과하며 기존 파워엘리트들이 권력을 주도할 것"이라고 밝힌 것으로 알려졌다.

김정남은 일본의 한 언론인과 7년동안 주고받은 이메일 대화록에서 "할아버지(김일성) 외모만 닮은 김정은이 북한 주민을 얼마나 만족시킬지 걱정"이라며 이같이 밝혔다고 조선일보가 17일 보도했다.

김정남은 "(김정일 국방위원장이 애초에)아들이 권력을 이어받게 하지 않을 것이다. 세습은 나와 아버지 김일성의 업적을 망칠 것"이라며 3대 세습을 반대했지만, 결국 "3대 세습은 세상의 웃음거리"라고 말했다.

김정남은 연평도 포격도발과 관련 "북조선 군부가 자신들의 지위와 존재의 이유, 핵 보유의 정당성을 부각시키기 위해 저지른 도발"이라며 "북조선 입장에서는 서해5도 지역이 교전지역이라는 이미지를 강조할 필요가 있다. 그래야 핵, 선군정치 모두 정당성이 부여되는 것"이라고 설명했다.

김정남은 또 "아버지는 나를 유학 보내고 난 후 매우 외로워했다. 그러다가 이복 형제 정철, 정은, 여정이 태어나자 애정은 이복동생으로 기울어졌다. 내가 오랜 유학 기간에 걸쳐 자본주의 청년으로 변하자 아버지는 동생들의 해외 유학 기간을 단축시켰다"고 말했다.

그러면서 "스위스 유학을 마치고 북한에 들어간 후 아버지에게 개혁·개방을 주장하면서부터 멀어졌고 이후 경계의 대상이 됐다"고 주장했다.

그는 "나는 기회가 있을 때마다 (아버지에게) 있는 그대로 계획 없이 직언한다. 과거 핵실험, 미사일 발사 실험에 대한 국제사회의 우려도 직언했다"며 "요즘도 주민들의 윤택한 삶을 위해 매진하도록 동생(김정은)을 잘 교육시켜 달라고 주문하고 있다"고 전했다.

김정남은 특히 김정은에 대해 "이복 동생인데도 단 한 번도 만난 적이 없어 그의 성향에 대해 잘 모른다"며 "김정은 체제가 오래 못 갈 것"이라고 전망했다.

북한 체제와 관련 "개혁·개방을 하지 않으면 북한이 무너지고, 개혁·개방을 할 때는 북한 정권이 붕괴할 것"이라며 "개혁·개방이냐 체제 수호냐를 놓고 수수방관하고 있는 동안에 시간이 지나버리는 것이 아닐까 생각한다"고 했다.