Not Satire? Kim IV

Stephan Haggard (PIIE), Marcus Noland (PIIE) and Jaesung Ryu (East Asia Institute)



We usually don’t like to pass on unsubstantiated rumor, but in this case it is amusing enough to include in our Not Satire category. A news source from Singapore has it that Kim Hansol, rumored to be the son of Kim Jong-Nam and hence the grandson of KJI, has enrolled (but not arrived) in a branch school of United World College in Mostar, Bosnia (UWCiM). Daily NK picked up the story as well. Yonhap did a follow-up by posting two photos of a Korean teenager in designer glasses and dyed hair purportedly taken from a Facebook page. The report states that there were postings such as "I love you yeobo" on a picture taken with a girl and also a post that said "North Korean incoming." Ouch.

As we always say, you be the judge. But the ironies hardly bear mentioning. According to the advertisement posted on Wikipedia and the United World College website, it appears that the UWC is a British-based feel-good effort to provide pre-university, intercultural education in a variety of locations to students from a diverse backgrounds, including war-torn areas. We hardly saw anything objectionable or elitist; to the contrary. Maybe Kim IV will learn something.

But Bosnia? So we contacted a friend with knowledge of the region, Daniel Marcus, and he noted that the city is not without its problems. Mostar is mainly Croat and Muslim but Dan heard stories about how the two ethnicities are dividing up the city; schools with both groups are being divided and communication is at a low ebb. Bosnia also has the most Tito nostalgia of any region in the area, so maybe the Kim family thought he would be welcomed for that. But as Dan puts it drily, “if the school has a lot of kids from families who are war refugees, you have to wonder what they'll make of NK royalty.”

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