12/23/2011, 00.00
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Terror, the reigning family’s trademark

Preparations for the funeral of the late dictator are underway. The “great successor”, Kim Jong-un, is preparing guest list and sitting arrangement. All eyes now are on his many siblings, destroyed by the family’s madness and the unrestrained competition for a role that perhaps none of them ever wanted.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – Kim Jong-un, the “great successor” to the Pyongyang throne, is preparing the guest list for his father’s funeral. Despite the decision to allow South Korean delegations to come to the ceremony (better than the initial announcement that no foreigner would be invited), the line-up near the coffin is a source of concern. In a nation where every signal is a key to interpret the ongoing transition and power struggle, knowing who will sit in what spots could enlighten us on the future government.

The spotlight is now on the family. North Korea is the only Stalinist dictatorship in history that has a dynastic form of succession. The ruling family is also the longest serving dynasty in the history of the country. The issue though is complicated by the fact that the late dictator had at least four wives and that by all accounts, for his many offspring, family life was one of terror.

The dear leader’s first official wife was Song Hye-rim (born in 1937). She is best remembered for her friendly look and happy smile, a foulard covering her head. A picture shows her smiling, like in a Stalinist propaganda poster: the good worker and mother. According to popular myth, it was North Korea’s ‘Eternal President’ Kim Il-sung who chose her for his son, Kim Jong-il. Their union produced the first-born son, Kim Jong-nam (1971), who for years was groomed to be the heir.

According to Kenji Fujimoto, an imaginary name that conceals the identity of the Japanese chef who cooked for the family for many years, his “father, as the boy was growing up, could not look at him, told him he was ugly, that he did not resemble him or his father Il-sung. He never accepted his son, forced him to be cruel to animals or servants, even if he didn’t want to. He broke his soul.”

The young man was caught travelling to Japan, incognito, on a false passport, in order to visit Disneyland in Tokyo. After his arrest, it was revealed that he was an alcoholic and a drug addict. For this, his father sent him into exile to Macau. He is not likely to go to the funeral. His mother died in 2002, in poverty, in a work camp where, where she had been sent to please her husband’s concubines and other wives.

The “great successor” was born from Kim Jong-il’s third wife, Ko Yong-hui (1953-2004) who also bore him Kim Jong-chul (1981) and Kim Yeo-jong (1987). According to some sources, after he was disappointed by his first-born, Kim Jong-il turned his attention to Jong-chul, but was disappointed because he was too “effeminate” for the role his father had planned for him. A former bodyguard said that the new leader fears his brother. “Once he told me he was a eunuch and asked me to kill him. Then he told me he was just kidding, but I think he truly hates him”. Ko Yong-hui’s sons will be present and seated close to the “great successor” at their father’s funeral.

Kim Sol-song (1973) and Kim Chun-song (1975) are the children of Kim Yong-suk (1947), the dictator’s second wife, whose fate remains a mystery. The two were their grandfather’s darlings, who also admired their mother. However, a source inside the family said, “Il-sung’s idea of education is like that in Sparta. His grandchildren were treated like slaves, forced to exercise in the snow, and subjected to humiliation (according to his perverted mindset) to strengthen their character. After the death of the “eternal president”, they disappeared. For some, they are walking ghosts.” They should be at the funeral, but way in the back.

Kim Ok (1964) is the dear leader’s fourth wife. His former personal secretary, she is thought to have had twins in the early 1990s. However, her bow in front of her husband’s coffin in the funeral chamber (pictured) indicates that she and her children are not going to vie for power. Still, given their young age, they might be candidates for the fourth Kim.
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