Who Is Kim Jong Nam?

Who is Kim Jong Nam?

Not many people have heard of him but to give you the answer: he is the eldest son and the previous crown prince to the North Korea’s family dictatorship. This might come as a surprise to people who thought Kim Jong Un, the current leader of North Korea, was an only child. In fact, Kim Jong Un has four siblings. Not much is known about his siblings since the DPRK government shushes away information about the family. With that being said, on the 13th of February 2017, Kim Jong Nam was allegedly assassinated by two women at the Kuala Lumpur airport.

Before analyzing Kim Jong Nam’s  assassination, let us discover his background first. The reasons why Kim Jong Nam was not selected to take over for his father (Kim Jong-il) are not fully known. However, there are many speculations surrounding this question. Speculations claim that Kim Jong Nam was indeed chosen as the crown prince and involved in Kim Jong-il’s politics during his youth. Scholars assume that he lost the position due to his criticisms of the government and wild behaviors.  Eventually, he was exiled following his father’s breaking point.

Since then, Kim Jong Nam mainly lived in Malaysia, hopping between different countries and trying his best to escape his past. Many of his acquaintances and friends remember him as a friendly man with “a very kind heart.”  He was fluent in four languages and loved to drink and spend time with women. We do not fully know who ordered the assassins to murder Kim Jong Nam but the majority of the fingers point back to Kim Jong Un. “It was most likely an old order that was carried out recently.”   It could have been to eliminate his competitor and destroy any possibility of potential threats to the DPRK. So far, “a total of eight North Koreans have been named in connection with the attack, but the DPRK authorities deny any government involvement.”

The death of Kim Jong Nam had an immediate effect on many diplomatic relations. For instance, Beijing immediately punished Kim Jong Un by banning coal exports for the rest of the year.” Not to mention, Russia’s unwillingness to restart a multilateral relationship. Furthermore, North Korea’s relations with Malaysia have been severely damaged over the criticisms and interrogations of the investigation process.

Unfortunately, questions still remain. What does North Korea gain from Kim Jong Nam’s murder? Has there been a change in power dynamics within the government? What will happen from now on? How will the diplomatic relationships change for China, Russia, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and many others? Who will be the next target? The death of Kim Jong Nam brings about more questions than answers.

Jisue Shin
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