Kim Jong-nam’s remarks about North Korea’s impending collapse were quoted by a senior South Korean official, Lee Ki-taek, deputy chairman of the South’s national unification advisory council, in a lecture in Berlin. Mr. Lee, speaking to Koreans living in Berlin, attributed them to a source who had seen Kim in Macao last month.
Mr. Ha believes Kim Jong-nam carefully rehearsed remarks that he made in an on-the-record interview with TV Asahi, a major Japanese network, during a recent visit to Beijing. Kim in that interview said he opposed “third-generation succession” – an allusion to the dynastic handover of power from long-ruling Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994, to Kim Jong-il and then to Kim Jong-un.
“He planned that comment in advance,” says Ha, whose station relies on secret cellphone contacts inside North Korea for much of its information. “There was a reason for his decision to talk in that way.”
Ha highlighted the rivalry between Kim Jong-nam and Kim Jong-un in a seminar at which Kim Jong-il’s one-time chef talked about his memories of the family.
Mr. Fujimoto also noted one comment that appeared to have been a deliberate effort to enrage his father. Rather than referring to North Korea by its formal name, “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Kim Jong-nam used the same Korean words for “North Korea” that are commonly used by South Koreans.