The death of Kim Jong Nam has been in the headlines recently and the debate is going to continue as the autopsy results and people responsible for his apparent murder have not been revealed. Considering that Kim and North Korea are sensitive topics, the case concerns many parties.
Apparently, the public opinion has leaned toward the fact that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is behind the murder, he ordered the killing of his half-brother to reassure his autocracy.
South Korean media should be thanked for spreading the word. South Korean media was the first to break the news of the murder of Kim Jong Nam, even beating their counterparts in Malaysia where he was killed.
A traitor and enemy of Kim Jong Un?
Kim Jong Nam has been seen as a harsh critic of the North Korean regime and even labeled as a traitor in media coverage in countries like the US, Japan and South Korea. Rumors like the “exiled government” and “backup plan” have surrounded the man.
Kim Jong Nam had expressed his own views toward the present North Korean regime. In 2004, he voluntarily reached to six Japanese journalists, and chose to maintain e-mail exchanges with one of them, Yoji Gomi, the journalist of Tokyo News, because he had “in-depth and unbiased perception” about North Korea. Kim had provided large amounts of information to Yoji through over 150 e-mails and three interviews totaling over seven hours in Macao and Beijing. In 2012, Yoji Gomi published his book My Father, Kim Jong Il, and Me, conveying Kim Jong Nam’s view on many sensitive issues.
The book didn’t convey the message that Kim Jong Nam was against, or intended to, subvert the regime; instead, he expressed some obscure perspective that even props up the legitimacy of Kim Jong Un administration.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong Nam also talked about his differences from his half-brother, which was that he was more inclined toward capitalism. He advocated reform and opening up to the outside world, and this became the reason for his banishment.
It was obvious to Kim Jong Nam that quarrelling brothers could only play into the hands of outsiders. So, he would show his difference while also speaking in defense of the North Korean regime.
According to the South Korean intelligence agency, Kim Jong Nam actually had the protection of China, a strategic ally of the North regime.
Does it make sense to kill the brother now?
Kim Jong Nam, as the eldest son of former North Korean leader, was said to be cultivated as the heir to his father originally. However, Kim Jong Il finally chose Kim Jong Un, the son who has adopted his political thinking.
Although there is a possibility that Kim Jong Nam was once considered as the successor, he failed to develop his own independent adherents during his father’s rein. And considering Kim Jong Un had been carefully trained as successor during the later days of his father and his own rectification efforts after taking power, there is no possibility that Kim Jong Nam could constitute any concrete threat to his brother.
“Actually, since Kim Jong Nam left North Korea in 2001, his influence has been declining,” said Yoji Gomi.
When asked if Kim Jong Un may have killed Kim Jong Nam, Yogi said that his interviewee mentioned there was no threat targeting him.
Kim Jong Nam didn’t have enough political strength to overturn his brother’s administration. The fact is, instead of being a traitor, he was still working for the regime.
The American and South Korean intelligence agencies believed that Kim Jong Il had hidden at least $4 billion in his secret accounts in banks in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao said on December 16, 2011. A South Korean expert analyzed that Kim Jong Nam was actually managing the secret accounts for North Korea.
“The South Korean media has depicted Kim Jong Nam to be someone only after lush lifestyle and big brands, but in fact, he has been managing Kim Jong Il’s secret money overseas,” Zhang Chengzhang, and expert on North Korean issues, was quoted as saying.
“It seemed that Kim Jong Nam has been living at ease, so he might be managing his father’s covert funds for a living. He would travel to European countries like Paris or Austria occasionally where Kim Jong Il’s secret money was hidden. The reason why the older Kim would reside in Macao is because one of his father’s covert accounts was with Macao’s Banco Delta Asia. In 2001, Kim used his fake passport to get into Japan and then was deported. Meanwhile, North Korea had sold guided missiles to Iraq and Iraq remitted money separately to Hong Kong, Switzerland and Japan in payment,” he said.
According to a JoongAng llbo report in December 2011, Kim Jong Nam has been working to maintain the North Korean regime in Macao.
“To build nuclear missiles, financial support would be indispensable. Our reporters found most of the money comes from Macao where Kim Jong Nam was living. The large sum of illegal money must be laundered before heading for North Korea; gambling houses are the most suitable places to do that. According to working staff in the casinos, it is possible to earn hundreds of billions in a few days. It is a known fact that Kim Jong Nam loved to gamble and that’s the reason he was in Macao,” said JoongAng llbo.
In this view, the older Kim offered indispensable support to North Korea. His death would probably sabotage North Korean regime’s connection to overseas covert trade and capital.
Pro-American forces in South Korea fight back
Analyzing the now overwhelming public opinion, it seems “killing Kim Jong Nam” was not the real mission, but making the death a big news is.
The Kim Jong Nam case has revived the pro-America forces in South Korea, becoming a good propaganda tool for them to fight back.
At the moment, South Korea and the US have the urge to stage Kim Jong Nam’s assassination in order to relieve the political pressures on Park Geun-hye and the ruling party. The passions stirred among South Koreans toward North Korea would avoid immediate impeachment of Park Geun-hye and prevent South Korea’s election from happening ahead of schedule.
Opinions expressed in the article don't represent those of the Sino-US.com.
The article is translated and edited from a CWZG.CN analysis by Rebecca Lin.