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North Korea’s Kim Jong Nam Sends E-mail to Japanese Reporters

North Korea’s Kim Jong Nam Sends E-mail to Japanese Reporters

Posted December. 05, 2004 23:11,   


Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, sent greetings via e-mail to four Japanese news correspondents stationed in Beijing.

The four correspondents were the reporters who Kim Jong Nam met by chance at the Beijing International Airport in China on September.

According to sources such as the Asahi Shimbun on December 5, the e-mail, which was written in Korean, said the following: “Greetings. This is Kim Jong Nam. It was a pleasure to meet you at the Beijing International Airport on September 25. The end of the year is near. I wish you happiness and good health. December 3.”

The e-mails were revealed to have been sent at 10:30 p.m. on December 3, using Yahoo Korea’s free account.

The Japanese correspondents happened to witness a man resembling Kim Jong Nam on September 25 at the passengers’ exit of Beijing’s international line, while they were waiting for the representatives of the Japanese government who were coming to China to discuss with North Korea the issue of people kidnapped to North Korea.

At the time, news sources in Beijing confirmed the man to be Kim Jong Nam.

The Kim Jong Nam e-mails that were sent on December 3 were sent to the e-mail addresses written on the name cards that were handed out by the correspondents.

When the Japanese correspondents sent reply letters saying, “Where are you? We want to meet you in person,” they received the answer, “I’m not in a position to give a clear answer to what you want to know. I only sent the letter as an act of greeting because I received your name cards at the airport.”

It has been known that when he suffered the disgrace of being banished from the airport while attempting to enter Japan with a fake passport in May 2001, Kim Jong Nam angered Kim Jong Il and has been unable to go back to North Korea ever since.

Considering the fact that the members of North Korea’s ruling class refrain from public outside activities, the greeting message of Kim Jong Nam is not only highly unusual but also hard to explain.

An expert of North Korean affairs in Japan interpreted this as “a demonstration, or a sign of resentment at the fact that he is left out from the list of possible successors and is staying overseas.”

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com