Kim Jung-Un Does Not Play With His Hand
Just a few months ago, I was at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Korea (FCCK) and met with Kim Jong-un. I got to know him well, both as a former North Korean leader, but also from a Western perspective.
When I asked Kim about his decision making, he said he always acted first in terms of his thinking. He told me that this was the only way he could keep his control over his people. He once had a conversation with another leader, the former Chinese president, Jiang Zemin. Kim told me he felt sorry for Jiang because he had a lot of advisors and it was difficult for him to make decisions on his own.
I asked Kim how he managed the “cabinet” of advisors. He explained that there were two distinct types of advisors – the ones who warned him of danger, and the others who tried to advise him. The former are called common, meaning ordinary, while the latter are considered abnormal. He said he wanted the abnormal advisors out and believed it was most of them. Because he himself was abnormal advisers made him nervous.
One way of keeping his attention was to make it a point that he was always surrounded by people, some of whom he invited. But that was hard for Kim to do. So he would often be seen walking alone. But even if he was, he would meet with one of his advisors who would usually call him and ask him to meet with Kim.
The next time I saw Kim, he sat alone on a sofa, so I asked him if he had a camera in his hand. Kim laughed and said he did not want anyone filming his every move. So I showed him my camera and he showed me his palm. I was quite taken back. I never knew he used to play with his hand, but Kim Jung-Hun had a device attached to his left hand for filming, which he called the “traffic light secretarial unit”. It was a small device that watched his left hand for any unusual movements and recorded them. The camera operated through infrared, and was placed very close to his hand.
Once, Kim Jung-Hun had a cabinet meeting. After that, I asked him if he planned to invite all of his advisors. Kim Jung-up told me that he planned to invite some of them but most would have to return to their normal lives.
Kim Jung-un believed it was necessary to send his ministers to avoid any distraction. The one thing he didn’t do was to invite his girlfriend, who was a senior member of the DPRK’s ruling circle. One reason why he didn’t invite her was because he wanted to show her that he still had control. But his other reason was because he thought she might soon leave the country.
He did invite a couple of friends and they discussed their plans. They were undecided as to whether they should get married or get divorced. They also discussed plans for Kim Jong-il’s funeral. The three discussed how best to send his body back to North Korea.
When I mentioned that Kim Jung-Hun said he didn’t like playing with his hand, I was told that he was one of those under medical supervision, and it was only that he believed it was more comfortable to be surrounded by others. He told me that some people who were allowed to visit him said they found it enjoyable. But I’m not sure if he really liked it too.
I asked Kim about the status of relations between North Korea and South Korea. He said that relations were not good and that the division was deep. I’m sure many things were discussed, including the time when he believed negotiations could be carried out and when he said the situation was beyond the reach of negotiation.
In conclusion, it’s clear that Kim Jung-up does not enjoy playing with his hand. He often played with it, but it must have felt awkward for him but once you know someone like that, he was always in control.