Tag Archives: DPRK-Poland relations

  1. 1988-1994 : Period in Central Europe

4.1 Period in Hungary

In August 1988, the official Korean Central News Agency carried a single report on 14th August that Kim Pyong Il was moved to Hungary in order to be the ambassador to his country. However it was unusual in North Korea to appoint ambassador in a friendly country a so young man. Kim Pyong Il was only 34 years old. Before, Kim Pyong Il, 34, was director-general of the People’s Armed Forces Bureau[1].

The diplomatic appointment was a means of placing the younger Kim far from the center of power so that he does not become a rival to his step-brother’s succession. Korea watchers argue that Kim Pyong Il may have been selected for the Hungarian appointment in order to study the Soviet Perestroika reform program in a country that leads in its implementation. If this was true, it would may indicated that North Korea was about to introduce a more open economic system. However the post of Hungarian ambassador was a relatively low one and an „unnatural” way to learn about Perestroika. In that case, it seems more likely that the posting was made to remove Kim Pyong Il from the seat of power.

As soon as South Korea and Hungary developed relations in December that year, he was recalled to Pyongyang after Hungary opened diplomatic relations with South Korea in February 1989. North Korea accused Hungary of „treachery” in opening the mission. Seoul had before no formal ties with communist countries, though it has exchanged trade offices with Yugoslavia, signed trade office pacts with Poland and Bulgaria an agreed to open trade offices with the Soviet Union. East European sources in Peking said Kim Pyong Il left Budapest without officially informing the Hungarian foreign ministry and his embassy told the ministry he was not coming back only two days later. Kim Pyong Il left Hungary on 5th November 1988[2]. First North Korea downgraded its diplomatic representation in Budapest to the level of charge d’affaires then closed its delegation. Then Hungarian embassy in North Korea didn’t close but Sandor Etre who was the hungarian ambassador in Pyongyang had the rank but not the title of ambassador[3].

Leadership capabilities of Kim Pyong Il were already demonstrated through his grade on the North Korean army. On the contrary, Kim Jong Il leadership abilities were questioned especially over issues such as the one’s related to the Seoul Olympic Games and the economic slump. In 1984, Kim Il Sung continued to force the issue concerning his son succession and inform the Korean nation about it. State media began lauding his son as North Korean’s heir apparent, and as an outstanding leader destined to complete the technical, ideological and cultural revolutions the president had begun. Kim Jong Il knew also about his father decreasing state of health. During a visit in Mongolia in 1988, Kim Il Sung had problems on climbing slopes and abandoned an attempt to enter a pavilion because he couldn’t negotiate the stairs. The international situation doesn’t allow Kim Il Sung to give the reins of the country to his son. Moscow and Beijing pressured him not to put his son in power yet because they do not have complete confidence on him.

4.2 Period in Bulgaria

Radio Pyongyang announced that Kim Pyong Il was appointed as North Korea’s ambassador in Sofia on the 12 December 1988 where he stayed Until 1994. It is said that in the bulgarian capital, Sofia he was used to be treated as a king according to diplomats who met him on this period. But as a king in exile. Besides he was so isolated that even his driver cannot answered him directly[4]. His mother has likewise been downgraded through its position in the party. Foreign residents say that Until 1983, she was regularly seen in public. Since then she has been kept out of sight.

On a meeting with the former Bulgarian Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov, Kim Pyong Il transmitted North korean official point of views concerning the Korea Peninsula. He told him that Korea will be unite before the end of 1995. „This reunification will occur without interference from outside but with international cooperation and support[5]”.

In early december 1993[6], he returned to Pyongyang. Meanwhile his mother as returned to politics as head of North Korean’s women league. the younger brother of Kim Il Kim Yong Sun was named to the Politburo of the North Korean Worker’s Party. Reports in the South Korea speculated that the stepmother’s shift in position might have been a compromise in exchange for the purging of her son, Kim’s half brother. For sure in North Korea there are forces which are supporting the Kim Pyong Il’s clan however they were not consolidated and not strong enough to fight against the Kim Jong Il’s group.

As the north korean economic situation was getting worst and worst, senior Kim had made more and more frequent provincial inspections than his son, due to his mistrust of his son Kim Jong Il, and was poised away especially by Chinese authorities to take away the confidence that he gave away to his eldest son. At the end of 1993, Kim Pyong Il personally reported to his father on the people’ plight. This so infuriated Kim Il Sung’s that he proceeded to criticize severly Kim Jong Il.

In the 1980s appearance of the Kim clan were realized in order to show the solidarity of the family. The younger brother of Kim Il Sung was back in order to prevent from a familial feud between Kim Jong Il and Kim Pyong Il. Kim Pyong Il came back from Belgrad, such events may also mean that the regime was afraid of rising tension on the Korean peninsula triggered by Pyongyang’s decision to end international inspection of its nuclear facilities. Kim Il Sung thought that giving a role to young adversaries might be better than shutting out of the system totally.

On an interview realized during his journey in Finland[7], he made a remark which was a synonym of his liberal point of view differing from Kim Jong Il. He believed that „under the new system, Bulgarian are leading a better life than in the past. Whatever the political system, the most important thing in a country is people’s welfare”.

  1. 1994-1998 Death of his father and journey in Finland

Being a member of President’s family does not guarantee a position in power in the North Korean Government. Kim Dal Hyon, a relative to Kim Il Sung was for example dismissed from his position of economic planning commissioner. The same situation occurred to Kim Pyong Il who was also under the control of Kim Jong Il. He lost his job in the MKPA

Kim Pyong Il was one more time posted to a foreign mission. Speculation on abuzz where still in mind as long as Kim Yong Yu, younger brother of Kim Il Sung, was named to the Politburo of the North Korean Worker’s party[8]. However the Pyong Il’s assignment signified that Kim Jong Il still wanted to grip his power. Kim Gwang Sop, husband of Kim Pyong Il’s elder sister, Kim Kyong Jin, was appointed as North Korea’s ambassador in Austria[9].

Meanwhile, various sources indicated that during this period Kim Jong Il was suffering from a heart decease other sources that he has some diabetes or a cirrhosis[10] as a result North Korean leadership was discussing about Kim Pyong Il as a successor. Kim Pyong Il answered South Korean Journalists, first time ever in his life during his journey in Finland told that there are no problems with the health of his half brother[11]. Since March 1994, Kim Pyong Il was the ambassador to Finland where he succeeded to Choe Sang Bom who returned home for health reasons[12]. However here it’s also unclear, ambassadors rarely came back at home for health reasons, and they are treated in special institutions in the country where they served.

Suddenly, the 22nd April1994[13], Kim Pyong Il returned at home just after having buy a villal.Giving rise to speculation that something may have happened in Pyongyang, it caused speculation by some people that Kim Il Sung, prompted by his skeptical view of Kim Jong Il’s ability to execute the national administration and grasp power, brought back Kim Pyong Il to the forefront. His return home was in hurry organized, and didn’t go through the procedure of notifying to the Finnish Foreign Ministry. Moreover he even missed the Finnish president’s annual reception for members of the diplomatic corps, an occasion in which a newly named ambassador cannot missed. Reasons given where as always the same, he had some unusual contingency to finish in North Korea but truth may be an other. Succession of Kim Il Sung was however still not sure. In 1994 when Kim Il Sung met Jimmy Carter, Kim Jong Il was not present, Kim Il Sung told the former american president that Kim Jong may not be the following north korean leader and therefore was not presented during their meeting. Kim Pyong Il maybe was still in the head of Kim Il Sung as his potential successor and may explain his sudden leave to Pyongyang explained before. It has even been also rumored that Kim Pyong Il, instead of being ambassador to Finland, was appointed to an important post in North Korean Military Affairs[14] or in the economic department[15]. An other fact confirms the sudden increase of importance of Kim Pyong Il in his father heart. His mother, Kim Song Ae made an extremely rare appearance to the public when she astood side with her husband during the visit of Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn on a pleasure boat on Taedong River in Pyongyang.

 The sudden death of Kim Il Sung in on the 9th July 1994 left North Korea stunned while South Korea and the rest of the world wondered who would take control of this country and what that would mean for continuing tensions over a possible nuclear tension. A day after the announcement of Kim’s death from a heart attack, his eldest son Kim Jong Il seemed to be the heir. North Korean broadcasts began extolling the son whom Kim Il Sung named military chief and heir to the mantle of power.

There were some suspicious points concerning the death of Kim Il Sung. Some people even claimed that his death was unnatural. No foreigners were allowed to attend his funeral, which was totally unimaginable for a man who loved to have foreign visitors attend his big ceremonies. Another suspicion stems from the realized autopsy, cutting the body of a parent is undesirable in Confucian society. This autopsy might have been used to cover up any possible signs of an assassination. Jimmy Carter who met him a month before told that Kim Il Sung was proud of his good health[16]. In communist countries like North Korea, arrangements for ceremonial events, and its symbolic role often signal changes in the political hierarchy. Funeral’s Kim Il Sung were also postponed which mean about possible changes in the North Korean Hierarchy. Various south korean officials met in emergency session to assess the funeral delay. The funeral was supposed to be held on Sunday. Korean traditions calls for burial within three to five days, this delay was considered as unusual. According to north korean sources the delay reflected the „ardent feelings and demand of the people” to pay respects at Kim’s flower-bedecked casket.

Kim Il Sung death facilitated the Kim Jong Il accession to power having besides the control of the party and the support of most influent generals. During the period April – August 1994, when Kim Pyong Il was in Pyongyang, his come back to Europe was prepared. Kim Il Sung’s funeral was a perfect example of the strategy of Kim Jong Il concerning elimination of its rival. During the ceremony, Kim Pyong Il was present on a seat on an upper deck however in the official list of those presents at the ceremony there were no mention of presences of Kim Song Ae and Kim Pyong Il[17] and moreover all his pictures, including his mother Kim Song Ae, were edited out. She ranked 103rd in the list of 270 dignitaries invited on Kim Il Sung’s funeral committee. Kim Pyong Il was not mentioned. However, at the memorial rally, her name was called between the members and alternate members of the Political Bureau of the KWP Central Committee. What also drew attention was that she stood beside her brother-in-law Kim Yong Chu. This can be viewed as being because she was the widow, but it also gives rise to speculation that her role may be considerably enhanced during the Kim Jong Il era[18]. Already in July 1994, Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng had acknowledged Kim Jong Il’s status by calling him „the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s new leader”[19]. Kim Pyong Il was then supposed to be the deputy minister in charge of of foreign economic relations[20]. In reality Kim Pyong Il came back to Helsinki as far as funeral of his fathers ended[21]. Tradition dictates that the eldest son serve serves as the central figure in a funeral that’s Kim Pyong Il’s role during the funeral should be study with attention as it is a sensitive point. These could come soon after Kim Il Sung’s funeral is over on July 19.

In short, his short-term succession seems virtually assured, but his long-term success is another matter. The long-term uncertainty stems from the fact that Kim Jong Il must solve all the problems that his father could not resolve, even in better times. These problems include: a steady economic downturn with no hopeful signs of recovery in the near future; and the current controversy over North Korea’s suspected nuclear weapons program. Kim Jong Il faces a predicament: the status quo, or continuity in Pyongyang’s domestic and foreign policies, will mean more of the same unresolved problems; on the other hand, a radical departure will potentially undermine political stability. Thus, at least in the short run, Kim Jong Il may be constrained to adopt a cautious balancing act to cope with the immediacy of his stable transition.

Kim Jong Il not only expelled members of his family but also strengthened his power by an adroit balancing act between the old and young elites. Based on „inclusive politics” and an „honor-power sharing” arrangement, Kim Jong Il’s balancing act has effectively reduced factional cleavages that might otherwise have crippled the hereditary succession plan. The „honor-power sharing” arrangement-which gives honors to the older elites and real power to younger elites has secured the loyalty of both the old guard and younger hopefuls. Kim strengthened the loyalty of the old guard by retaining old high-ranking officials in their posts even when some of their relatives defected to Seoul. For example, Prime Minister Kang Song San stayed in the same post until recently although his son-in-law defected to Seoul in 1994. Taking into account that–in the past–families of defectors had been punished harshly, such extraordinary treatment could be enough to induce the elders’ loyalty.

Thanks to his inclusive politics–retaining all the old revolutionaries in their incumbent posts, Kim Jong Il has been able to inherit not only his father’s leadership titles but also the sustained loyalty of the old guard. Having retained the old elite and its policies, post-Kim Il Sung North Korea looks like a „land that time forgot” where nothing has ever changed.

However, the indefinite continuation of such a phenomenon might have triggered discontent among the younger hopefuls, who had long been waiting for the Kim Jong Il era. Therefore, it was necessary for Kim to appease the young-elite to maintain their loyalty to him. Also, during the three years of mourning Kim Il Sung’s death (1994-97), about fifty power elite died, including deputy premier Kang Hi Won and the two aforementioned defense ministers. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Kim Jong Il has quietly placed hand-picked junior elite to key posts in the party, state, and army. Kim Jong Il has stabilized and substantially broadened his power base, encompassing all age groups, ranging from the elders (ages 60s, 70s and 80s) to the young hopefuls (ages 30s and 40s). A window has thus been opened for the peaceful transition of power from one generation to another. Kim Jong Il’s intergenerational balancing act turned out to be a „win-win” formula for himself as well as for all the old and young power elite.

First, he reincorporated all age groups into his own political circle, successfully suturing all the potential cleavages within the ruling group. Thus far no sign of power struggles has surfaced. And, the foundation of the Kim Jong Il regime has been firmly consolidated, based on the intergenerational harmony. Second, steered by Kim’s balancing act, Pyongyang’s power circle has been undergoing a quiet generational shift, without frictions between the old and young generations or substantial changes in the existing power structure.

However, upon closer examination, the seemingly adroit tactics have their own inherent limits and contradictions, which might undermine the foundation of the regime in the long run. Kim’s inclusive politics laid an unexpected obstacle to internal reform and external opening, by keeping intact the conservative old-revolutionaries who prefer status-quo to substantial changes. As long as the old guard has leverage in politics, meaningful reform is unlikely to occur.

The „delicate” balance between old and young elites and/or truce between hawks and doves may not last indefinitely. Ironically, thanks to Kim’s inclusive politics, some „unreliable” elements continue to survive in the ruling circle. Herein lays the seed of potential cleavages and dissidence. As long as Kim’s balancing act continues to work, the power elite will remain openly loyal to him. However, if the balancing act breaks down, the power elite is likely to fragment and may turn against Kim Jong Il. For example, if the balancer disappears from the scene–perhaps due to an accident, Illness, or for any other reason, the delicate balance he has devised may evaporate. Kim Jong Il’s balancing could also be fractured by radical political changes caused by events such as a palace coup, food riots, or external pressures. Given some unreliable and/or alienated elites, the possibility of a palace coup cannot be ruled out. If a coup were to remove Kim Jong Il, the successor probably could not duplicate Kim’s balancing act. Kim Jong Il also ordered north koreans students studying in eastern countries not to contact his brother and sister[22].

The ailing economy is a challenge to Kim’s balancing act. Although the economic pain alone might not be automatically translated into political unrest, it could be a catalyst leading to internal disputes. However tightly controlled and thoroughly inured to Spartan hardship, the North Korean masses, if starved enough, may rise up in food riots. Food riots might initially be suppressed by military force, but this would invite intense criticism from the international community. Moreover, brutal suppression of starving masses might lead to some military units breaking with the regime, because the extended families of soldiers and lower-echelon officers could be affected by food shortages. Even if such events do not happen, the ever-deepening economic Ills could reduce the political leverage that is indispensable to Kim’s balancing act. Thus far he has been able to manage political patronage at his own will, using a huge sum of political funds. However, if he could no longer provide sufficient favors for the power elite due to a depletion of economic resources, his political leverage and maneuverability would be reduced and his balancing act disturbed.

If the delicate balance breaks down, the power circle would turn into a downward spiral. Not only would all the latent cleavages come to the surface, but new factions might also arise. Pyongyang thus might turn into a political ground of factional rivalries along family lines, the inner-circle vs. outer-circle, the Party vs. the Army, field commands vs. border/security guards, political officers vs. regular army commanders, politico-security apparatus vs. socio-economic/diplomatic apparatus, hardliners vs. reformists, and so on. Intense power struggles could result in anarchy, followed by the collapse of the Stalinist regime and even the state.

a report on the six plots to remove Kim Jong Il which occurred in the North Korean army in the nineties, based on the information and intelligence recently gathered by the relevant authorities. The gist of the plot incidents are as follows in chronological order.

  1. In January 1992, three senior officers, including a regiment commander, and 10 officials from the State Security Department plotted a coup d’etat out of complaint about Kim Jong Il’s succession to the post of supreme commander of the army. They were executed as the plot was uncovered in advance.
  2. In April 1992, some 30 general-grade officers, including Colonel General An Jong Ho, deputy chief of staff of the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, and the deputy commander of the Seventh Army Corps stationed in Hamhung attempted an unsuccessful assassination of Kim Jong Il. This was uncovered in March 1993, and An Jong Ho and the deputy commander of the Seventh Army Corps were shot to death, and other general-grade officers fled to Russia seeking political asylum.
  3. In December 1992, a coup d’etat was plotted by those who were led by a general-grade officer from the Guard General Bureau, and all the participants in the plot were executed.
  4. In June 1994, some 10 officers from the Kanggon Military Officers’ General School plotted to assassinate Kim Jong Il. They were arrested and burnt at the stake publicly in the school ground.
  5. In December 1994, fire was exchanged between the followers of Kim Jong Il and the followers of Kim Pyong Il as we will see later in which eight major figures died and Kim Pyong Il’s followers were repressed by force.
  6. In April 1995, an intelligence agent attempted to attack Kim Jong Il. He was arrested on the spot, and this incident led to the reinforcement of the guard for Kim’s security.

On this period South Korea considered Kim Pyong Il as a serious talker, the former Seoul Prime Minister Lee Yung Duu wanted to communicate a message to the Communist country via the embassy of DPRK in Helsinki. Lee Yung Duu said even that he was ready to meet a North Korean leader to discuss security, problems on the Korean peninsula. Friday 28 october 1994, Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho was even told to speak with the north korean ambassador about a possible peaceful reunification and an expanded economic ties in exchange of the transparency of the north korean’s nuclear program[23]. Finland was one of the few Western countries with diplomatic ties with North Korea.

A month later when South Korean foreign minister, Han Sung Joo visited Helsinki to arrange Aho’s trip to South Korea, there were unconfirmed reports that Han Sung Joo had contacted Kim Pyong Il.

It has been rumored that as far as Kim Pyong Il came back from Pyongyang without his family he was looking for an asylum in Austria where his sister used to live. Speculation has it that he may have decided to seek asylum for fear of being punished for not drawing in enough foreign currency. Some South Korean observers monitoring North Korean news said the North has used its diplomats for smuggling and other illegal trade as a desperate way to earn foreign currency. However it was demented it.

Bad mood and nervosity was noticeable on his face at various events in Helsinki. On the 25th August 1994, he made a public appearance on a banquet at the Ukrainian embassy held to commemorate the former Soviet republic’s Independence Day. Kim Pyong Il during the ceremony was impassive, kept a low profile after greeting the Ukrainian ambassador and avoids contact with other dignitaries.

On the 2nd of September 1994, nervosity of Kim Pyong Il was remarkable during his first interview realized and first comments since his father died. Kim Pyong Il, 41 years old, smoking camel cigarettes and drinking Coca Cola said that he was present during the funerals of his father and reasons concerning the reasons of delay in the appointment of his half brother were the followings: „as we are still in a period of mourning, it is not appropriate to hold a large-scale congress and we are not in a hurry”. He also mentioned that Kim Jong Il was not an alcoholic. Interviews conducted with him during this period showed us that he was totally obedient to Kim Jong Il and a strong believer in a quick reunification between both Koreas. However for sure these positions were just the officials views of the North Korean establishment. On an interview with a Finnish newspaper[24] he indicated that „Kim Jong Il was already chosen twenty years before and that Pyongyang wants to bury twenty years of hostility with the United States”.

 Obedient of Kim Pyong Il to the dear leader is also just a myth, various incidents occurred in North Korea which confirms that a rivalty was existing. Kim Pyong Il’s friends have been sent to labor camps over the years for voicing criticism of Kim Jong Il, according to defectors in Seoul[25]. Some defectors also said that people were expelled to local regions just for shaking hands with Kim Pyong Il.  Then an exchange of gunfire allegedly occurred in Pyongyang in between 12 and 17 December 1994 between followers Kim Jong Il and Kim Pyong Il, Seven or eight people were reported killed or wounded in the shootout. It is said that a north korean delegation was supposed to hold a meeting with chinese diplomats on the Tumen River Development Area Project however due to before quoted events, this meeting was postponed.

In April 1995 there was a rumor which was propaged from Seoul. Kim Pyong Il was summoned to North Korea recently, while more than 50 of his followers have been confined to their houses, a diplomatic source here said on Monday. The source who visited China late last month said, „Chinese officials who visited North Korea last month told me that Kim Pyong Il was recalled to North Korea and that more than 50 of his followers have been placed under house arrest”. The source, however, said that it’s not known why Kim Pyong Il was summoned or why his followers are under house arrest. „Kim Pyong Il himself seems to also be under virtual house arrest” the source said. These rumors have been unconfirmed. A senior government official said on that the local report that Kim Pyong Il has been under house arrest in Pyongyang, appears not true. A check through a diplomatic channel indicated that Kim Pyong Il, North Korean ambassador to Finland, attended the Finnish Parliament’s opening ceremony last 29th March, the official said[26].On the same year Kim Pyong-il went to the University of Tampere for a courtesy visit[27].

During a meeting with reporters at a banquet arranged by the Popular Republic China embassy in Helsinki on the occasion of the anniversary of the founding of the PRC, Ambassador said: „A grand ceremony will be held on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the party, but I have not been notified of his inauguration as general secretary”. It was ndirectly denied on 2nd October the reports that Secretary Kim Jong Il will assume the post of general secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party on the occasion of the anniversary of the party founding, which falls on 10th October. Denying the possibility of the Kim Jong Il’s inauguration as general secretary on 10th October 1995, Ambassador said that „it is certain that he will assume the post soon because the people want (him to be inaugurated as general secretary)”. Also, he hinted that the inauguration ceremony will not be delayed indefinitely. When asked about exactly when the inauguration will be held, he said: „I have no idea”.

Concerning the flood damage in July and August in North Korea, Kim Pyong Il said that „we should restore the damaged areas as soon as possible to recover stability”. This indicates that North Korea is now making all efforts to restore the flood damage. Kim, along with his wife Mrs Kim Sun Kum during a rare presence, attended the banquet held at the PRC embassy and actively talked with foreign envoys, which was unprecedented[28].

In may 1996[29], Amid widespread rumors that all members of Kim Jong Il family and relatives residing in Europe will return to their home country on the orders of the North Korean authorities, Kim Pyong Il, DPRK ambassador to Finland, is believed to have already returned to Pyongyang. In the past, Kim Pyong Il has not made public appearances during regular hours and has remained indoors at his official residence. However, officials in the North Korean embassy in Finland have confirmed that „Kim Pyong Il is absent on official business”, thus supporting the speculation about his return to Pyongyang. A relevant official in the North Korean embassy said that „Ambassador Kim is currently away on business and the time of his return is unknown”.

  1. 1998-2008 : period in Poland

After having live 4 years in Helsinki, Kim Pyong Il was sent in Warsaw where he is still residing. Already at the end of 1997, it has been said that Kim Pyong Il was named as the north korean ambassador to Poland. Kim Pyong Il left Helsinki a few days after the closing of his embassy. 1994 was a year where North Korea closed an important number of its embassies including Finland. North Korea closed its embassies in order to save foreign exchange reserves and to prevent form the escape of north korean diplomats like Chang Sung Kil, north korean ambassador to Egypt who escaped from this country in 1997.

In winter 1997[30] according to Park Gab Dong a sector of the youth corps and the military gave up on Kim liberating the Korean peninsula and began plotting to get rid of him and replace him with Kim Pyong Il. But the North Korean leader, he said, moved first.

KSA Rumunia 2

Kim Sung Ae (right) on a picture with her husband Kim Il Sung (left). Source: North Korean TV

On the same time Kim Jong Il removed his father’s second wife and widow, Kim Song Ae, from her post as head of the women’s league in April. Next Kim Pyong Il disappeared from his post in the North Korean embassy in Warsaw, Park Gab Dong said. „It appears that Kim Il Sung’s beloved wife and son have been put away where they’ll never see the light of day again”. As a result, Kim Jong Il liquidated some 40,000 members of the upper echelon of the People’s Military Academy and the Kim Il Sung Youth League, Park Gab Dong said. The only survivor, Youth League chairman Choe Ryong Hae, was saved because his late father was a close comrade-at-arms of Kim Il Sung, Park Gab Dong said, although he had since been relegated to being a garbage collector.

However in reality the half brother of Kim Jong Il stayed in Warsaw. But why Poland? Ironically, in a conversation that I heard, Kim Pyong Il daughter told somebody that sending his father to Poland, Kim Jong Il show his respect to this country[31].

Other source told us that the embassy in Poland was supposed to be closed, on this period relations between Poland and North Korea were strictly reduced to the minimum. After the fact that North Korea expelled Polish soldiers from the neutral commission which was working on the North-South Korean border, ties have been cut between both countries[32]. In 1995 North Korea decided on withdrawing polish officers serving as observers in the armistice commission and were forced to leave the Panmunjon site. This might be one of the reasons which were advanced on the non instant accreditation of the ambassador. Kim Pyong Il was only accreditated in October 1998, 10 months after his arrival to Warsaw. According to polish law, an ambassador can be nominated only after its accreditation by the Polish president. An other thing is sure. He was not supposed to come back to North Korea, because he was still a synonym of danger for Kim Jong Il. In August 1998, when was named the 687 list of deputies of the National assembly name of Kim Pyong Il and Kim Song Ae were not quoted. During 4 years, between 1994 and 1998, in North Korea a mourning period operated. 9th October 1998 was the date in which Kim Jong Il officially took the power in North Korea. It was also the date of the north korean independency. The delay in his credential presentation was reportedly due to a protocol problem. According to the South Korean embassy in the Polish capital, Kim Pyong Il presented his credential signed by Kim Yong Nam[33] to Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski on Tuesday 17th November 1998[34]. Until recently North Korea had issued credentials in the name of the late Kim Il Sung, and beginning from this year many countries receiving new North Korean ambassadors took an issue with the credentials signed by the deceased leader. The Polish government didn’t accept such things and consequently Kim Yong Nam was made chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly on 5th September, North Korea began issuing credentials in his name. During these 10 months, Kim Pyong Il has avoided appearing at formal diplomatic events since he was not accreditated and for sure he may have even not been in Poland due to the creation of a movement on his favor in Pyongyang.

On the 17th November 1998 he presented his credentials to the Polish president Alexander Kwasniewski with a 10 months delay[35], which nowadays caused speculation about his fate in the Stalinist country. He is still one of the ambassadors with the most important longevity in the corpus diplomaticus established in Poland which from one side is strange because diplomats used to move every 5 years and from an other side means that he is still not warmly welcomed in his country. Since 3 years due to a lack of money and to some renovations in the embassy, national events are not celebrated in the embassy that’s why pictures of Kim Pyong Il which can be found in the web are often taken on a date which commemorate north korean event like for example pictures in Narew which were taken in february 2007, date of birth of Kim Jong Il.

Meanwhile it was rumored that in 1997, a group of young military officers tried to promote him as successor to Kim Il Sung even if he was dead since 3 years, however it’s failed. As a result Kim Song Ae, who was head of the Democratic Women’s Union, was dismissed from her post as long as she was involved in the attempt. She also failed to obtain candidacy for the Supreme People Assembly elections[36].

On 20th June 1999, it has been confirmed[37] that Ambassador Kim Pyong Il left Poland a week ago and has returned to Pyongyang. Detailed reasons have not been revealed but there is a possibility that there are problems with his health or with his status within the North Korean power structure. However reasons were different, each north korean ambassadors left for Pyongyang for the meeting of heads of diplomatic missions. Such meetings didn’t happen in 1998 but were normal until 1997[38]. This type of meetings likely used to continue until august of each year, as far as ambassadors should came back to their countries in september. Considering that the organization of such meetings implies a lot of costs, it means that North’s Korea system has stabilized considerably.

He is said to have also studied in Russia and Germany however information are obscure here. Being dropped in foreign affairs, Kim Pyong Il has for sure great skills concerning foreign languages, he speaks fluently english, russian, has some skills in german and understands Polish.

Kim Pyong Il as a north korean military with a general grade may have an important role in the nuclear question as soldiers and militaries are controlling nuclear installations all over North Korea. His long journeys in Pyongyang may also signify that he has still an important role in political affairs however it’s unclear. First he is already 10 years in Poland, although he is regularly in North Korea, 3 months a year, he is still not accepted in the North Korean establishment. This year He is supposed to come back to Poland the 5th of September 4 days before the event of the Day of independence which occurs on the 9th of september.

One of the key rivals to Kim Jong Il, Kim Young Il died in 2000, He was working at the north korean embassy in Berlin.

After the decision of North Korea to conduct a test, officials from the foreign ministry met Kim Pyong Il in order to discuss the issue[39].

Even Picture of Kim Pyong Il are expelled from the net, in 2007 after a visit in Narew, a set of photographies was exposed on the net and the south korean website www.daIlynk.com wrote an article concerning him[40]. However as soon as the North Korean embassy in Poland was informal abort it she argued to remove pictures of Kim Pyong Il from the Narew’s web site[41]. Contacts with him are rather impossible, even the most important supporters of North Korea cannot meet him except on official occasions[42].

Kim Pyong Il may have still a key role in North Korea[43], during his journey in Pyongyang in the summer 2007, he was supposed to try to get an upper position in his home country and he wanted to protect his family, his daughter was seen in Beijing[44].

7. 1998-2008 : period in Czech Republic

In January 2015, Kim Pyong Il was made ambassador to Czech Republic. After the assasination of Kim Jong Nam, the protection of Kim Pyong Il was reinforced.


Kim Pyong Il during an exhibition in Prague (2016). Source: Czech TV.

8. Family of Kim Pyong Il.

7.1 His direct family

7.1.1The wife of Kim Pyong Il

Kim Soon Geum or Kim Sun Kun, Kim Pyong’s wife is very discrete and is probably also a member of the north korean establishment. Her family is related to North Korean secret services.

7.1.2 Children of Kim Pyong Il

Eung Song, 26, daughter of Kim Pyong Il lived 100 days by Kim Il Sung house. She wrote a doctorate thesis in Warsaw and is fluent at least in English and French.

Former President Kim Il Sung gave the name of Kum Song to a girl borne to his daughter, Kim Kyong Hui (wife of Chang Song Taek, first vice department director, Mass Organizations and Capital Construction Department and the name of Un Song to the daughter of Kim Pyong Il[45].

She had a similar similar situation as Kim Kyung Hee, other member of the Kim Jong Il family, who committed a suicide in France because she didn’t want to marry a north Korean. Kimi has the same situation. Her father was very angry about it and reduced to the minimum her contact with the outside world. Kimi was also criticized by her father for leading an extravagant lifestyle as a student. She is a hard smoker, which is totally strange for a north korean women, a country where women don’t used to smoke and a heavily drinker. She cannot answer to a phone of an unknown number. She has no messengers as she used to use it. It’s rather a tragedy for her as far as she was used to party in Warsaw and meet various foreigners, her boyfriend was even a french guy in Warsaw with an unknown job.

Contacts in the Kim clan were regularly held on. Kimi used to fly[46] her aunt, Kim Kyong Chin (wife of the North Korean ambassador to Austria Kim Gwang Sop) sister of Kim Pyong Il, who was residing in Vienna.

In Kang, 24, is also writing a thesis in Warsaw. He plays often table tennis and Eun Song is playing regularly piano even during events where the north korean ambassador is present all around Poland. He is more discrete than his sister.

Both of them studied at the High School of Business, Administration and Computer technics in Warsaw. This school is localized 500 meters from the North Korean embassy in Warsaw. Also Kim Pyong Il’s daughter demented the rumor, it is said that they studied so near from their home address in order to reduce their movements in Warsaw. In 2006, Kim Jong Il applies a new decree to children of diplomats children who must come back to their home country, some rumors said that as children of the Kim Jong Il family, both children of Kim Pyong Il may stay in Poland where they would be able to complete their degree.

7.2 Other relatives.

We can notify that despite the existence of other women who have lived with the North’s leader, the first lady in North Korea remains Kim Yong Suk, 59, who married Kim Il Sung in the early 1970s. There are still her pictures in the Pyongyang streets[47]. Little is known her except that she worked as a typist, and there are no known photographs of her.  Immediate family members count among the elite in North Korea’s society but few hold any real power outside of their titles. The importance of family connections in the power corridors of the North can be highlighted. For instance, Kang Sok Sung, who is in charge of the party’s research institute of history, is the brother of Kang Sok Ju, vice foreign minister and also the official in charge of the North’s nuclear policy. Hyon Chol Kyu, a former chief party secretary of South Hamgyong province who was purged in the 90s due to his son’s defection to the South, has now returned to the scene as a member of the party’s central committee. This seems to be partially due to the fact that his brother, Hyon Chol Hae, is the number two officials at the party’s political affairs bureau and close to leader Kim Jong Il.


Nicolas Levi

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[22] Private sources

[23] Lee Yung Dug wanted to transmit the following message via the finnish prime minister Esko Aho „Please tell him, too, that the most important thing is recovering inter-Korean mutual trust”.

[24] „Asian Political News Kyodo News International”, 30th July 1994.

[25] „The Washington Times”, 17th July 1994.

[26] „BBC Monitoring Services”, 5th April 1995.

[27] Anna Nuutinen, Mitä tapahtui Kim Jong-unin “Suomen-sedälle”? – “Kuka tahansa on alttiina eliminoinnille”, Ilta Sanomat Ulkomaat 20.12.2013.

[28] „BBC Monitoring Services”, 6th October 1995.

[29] „BBC Monitoring Services”, 27th May 1996.

[30] „Reuters news”, 7th October 1998.

[31] Private sources

[32]„Polska agencja Prasowa”, 28th February 1995.

[33]„Taehan MaeIl”, 20 czerwca 1999.

[34]„Yonhap News Agency”, 19 listopada 1998.

[35]„BBC Monitoring Services”, 21 listopada 1998.

[36] „The Korea Herald”, 14th October 1998.

[37] Private sources.

[38]„BBC Morning Services”, 31th August 1999.

[39]  „PAP”, 9th October 2006.

[40] May 2007.

[41] Private sources.

[42] Private sources.

[43] Private sources.

[44] Private sources.

[45] „BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific”, 27 lutego 2006.

[46] Private sources.

[47] Private sources.


As it was presumed, North Korea conducted a new nuclear test, its fifth one, at its famous site based at Punggye-ri on the 9th September. This test caused an earthquake of 5.3 magnitude, which is identical to January activity. Meanwhile in Pyongyang, it’s the national day, an important holiday in North Korea.

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