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[Exclusive] Late Defector`s Thoughts on NK Heir Apparent

[Exclusive] Late Defector`s Thoughts on NK Heir Apparent

Posted October. 11, 2010 11:26,   


The highest-ranking North Korean official to defect to South Korea, Hwang Jang-yop, told The Dong-A Ilbo nine days before his death Sunday of the challenge facing the North’s heir apparent Kim Jong Un.

In an Oct. 1 interview, Hwang said Kim will be commended if he achieves denuclearization, reform and opening of the communist country, but will face criticism if he fails.

Hwang expressed reservations about judging the North’s successor, saying, “It’s too early to make judgments about him. He recently began appearing in public so we need time before making judgments.”

“Whoever the successor is -- Kim Jong Un or others -- will make no difference unless the core problem of the North (totalitarian rule) is resolved.”

Hwang’s comment is in contrast to what he said after he fled the North in 1997. At the time, he blasted the North’s leader Kim Jong Il and the communist regime. When Hwang visited the U.S. in March, he downplayed Kim Jong Un’s ability by saying, “What good will it do to know about him?”

Considering Hwang’s change of opinion on Kim Jong Un, who has begun public activity as the heir apparent, Hwang might have had a bit of hope for change in the North.

Hwang spoke to a Dong-A reporter for 30 minutes on Oct. 1 at Hwang’s office in Seoul’s southern Gangnam district. This was Hwang’s tenth interview with Dong-A since he visited the daily’s headquarters on July 21 last year.

Hwang refrained from commenting on Kim Jong Un, saying, “I will soon express my official opinion on him.”

“I’m more worried about South Korea than North Korea,” he said. “It makes no sense that just 30 percent of South Koreans believe the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan was attacked by North Korea, and that South Koreans are disputing sending rice aid to the North.”

“The South, which is wealthier than the North, is showing such an attitude because it lacks ideological power,” he added. “For democracy in North Korea and Korean reunification, all South Koreans should arm themselves with ideology.”

“I urge Korean media including The Dong-A Ilbo to help arm South Koreans with ideology.”

On Aug. 17 last year, Hwang made Dong-A the first domestic daily he visited since his defection to South Korea. He gave a lecture to some 20 reporters at an in-company forum on inter-Korean relations.

He also appeared on Dong-A News Station, a video news program on donga.com, on Aug. 19 last year and expressed his opinion on democracy in the North.