Interview with a Dictator’s Grandson

Kim Han-Sol, one of the grandsons of North Korea’s infamous Kim Jong-Il, did an interview recently with former UN Undersecretary-General and Finnish Minister of Defense Elisabeth Rehn in which he spoke about his life growing up and his studies at the United World College in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Born in Pyongyang in 1995, Kim Han-Sol moved to Macau when he was a child and attended an international school that exposed him to others from around the world.

It’s a really great interview and I included the YouTube videos below, but before you get to that, I wanted to highlight a few interesting things. First, when you watch the video, it’s seems pretty amazing how Kim Han-Sol has an accent that seems pretty similar to the standard American one, which would have been more surprising if he did not mention that he went to an international school when he was younger. He has such a globalized life, going fron North Korea to Macau to Bosnia and Herzegovina and through his studies, he has met a diverse set of people and ideas.

“Yeah, it wasn’t really a big problem getting along with friends. There were a lot of internationals in that school and that’s where it started where I wanted to really go further into the international community and get to know more about different cultures and backgrounds because in my school in Macau, where I went, we had people from the United States and South Korea, and these are countries that we have been having a lot of conflicts with and a lot of tension, but we turned out to be really great friends in the end and that just sparked the curiosity for me to go further into the next level and then I chose to move to the United World College later on.” [Interview Part 1 – 3:55]

“Because of the multiculturalism the school has and the diversity in the classrooms, it is easier for all of us to expand on our topics in class and share our opinions on various topics and through that I think we can come to a better understanding with no boundaries and I think that is a very crucial thing for building a more peaceful community.” [Interview Part 1 – 9:35]

When Elisabeth Rehn asks Kim Han-Sol about his grandfather, he talks about how they never actually met, though he would have wanted to understand his life and actions more.

“I was actually waiting for him until before he passed away hoping that he would come find me because I really didn’t know if he knew that I existed…I always wanted to meet my grandfather because I wanted to know what kind of person he is and just wanted to know more about his personal things.” [Interview Part 2 – 4:22]

Even though he is one of Kim Jong-Il’s descendants, Kim Han-Sol has a very humanitarian perspective on the world and I think it gave many people, not just Koreans, hope for a better future. He understands that there is no simple binary in terms of people and that understanding each other’s stories would be better for everyone as a whole.

I’ve always dreamed that one day I will go back and make things better and make it easier for the people better there. I also dream of unification because it’s really sad that I can’t go to the other side and see my friends over there. It’s a really sad story because my friends would say it would be really great to just take a bus or something to South Korea or North Korea and meet each other at some point, but that’s one of the dreams. [Interview 2 – 10:16]

I really recommend taking thirty minutes out of your day to watch the interview, which are posted below. The actual interview begins at 1:35 on the first video. If he continues to show this passion for humanitarian projects and diversity while growing up, I can honestly see him being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He is only seventeen right now, but he shows so much promise. I’m excited for him!


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