Is the man in the video really the son of slain Kim Jong-nam?

Kim Han-sol, whose father, Kim Jong-nam, was recently killed in a possible hit perpetrated by the North Korean government, appears to have released a video since going into hiding after the assassination.

Lee Jin-man/AP
People at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, watch a TV news program displaying a video in which a man claims to be the son of Kim Jong-nam, the slain half brother of North Korea’s leader on Wednesday. The South Korean National Intelligence Service determined the man in the video is Kim Han-sol, whose father, Kim Jong-nam, was killed at an airport in Malaysia last month.

A man claiming to be the son of Kim Jong-nam, the recently slain half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, has surfaced in a 39-second video posted on YouTube Thursday. There is some confusion over whether the man, who identifies himself as Kim Han-sol, is who he says he is, though he does bear a strong resemblance to the Kim Han-sol interviewed in 2012 by former Finnish defense minister Elisabeth Rehn.

In the video, posted by a channel belonging to Cheollima Civil Defense, a previously unknown organization, Mr. Kim speaks in English and offers a North Korean official’s passport as proof of his identity, though the personal identification information is blacked out.

"My name is Kim Han-sol from North Korea, part of the Kim family," he says in the clip. "My father has been killed a few days ago. I'm currently with my mother and my sister.... We hope this gets better soon."

Kim Han-sol was born in Pyonyang, North Korea, but the 21-year-old has spent most of his life abroad, living mainly in Macau, China, and attending school in France and Bosnia.

A South Korean National Intelligence Service official, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said that it had been determined that the man in the video is Kim Han-sol, but did not say how that determination had been made.

However, South Korea's Unification Ministry, a department of the government that works toward the reunification of North and South Korea, said they had no knowledge of the Cheollima Civil Defense group. The website on which the video was initially posted was registered only on Saturday, using a Panama-based protection service to obscure the ownership of the web address.

"Cheollima" is a winged mythical horse in East Asian folklore capable of traveling vast distances. According to the group’s website, the group actively hides its web footprint in its efforts to assist high-level North Korean defectors escape the country and protect them in situations like Kim Han-sol’s. The site encourages others to join the organization by sending requests to an address hosted by a Switzerland-based encrypted-email service, and also advertises the fact that it accepts Bitcoin donations.

“Cheollima Civil Defense responded last month to an emergency request by survivors of the family of Kim Jong-nam for extraction and protection,” reads a statement on the site. “The three family members were met quickly and relocated to safety. We have in the past addressed other urgent needs for protection. This will be the first and last statement on this particular matter, and the present whereabouts of this family will not be addressed.”

The site also expresses “gratitude” for the assistance of China, the Netherlands, the United States and “a fourth government to remain unnamed” for their assistance in protecting Kim Han-sol’s family. It also thanked Lody Embrechts, the Dutch ambassador to North and South Korea, though Mr. Embrechts himself declined to comment on the situation.

"We are aware of these reports,” a spokeswoman for Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. “The MFA cannot comment on them.”

If the organization is legitimate, it would have good reason to maintain the cloak-and-dagger setup for the younger Mr. Kim. On Feb. 13, Kim Jong-nam was killed by two women who rubbed a deadly nerve agent on his face in a Malaysian airport. Speculation at the time wondered if his son would be next. Malaysia, which had had remarkably good relations with North Korea prior to the incident, has accused Kim Jong-un of orchestrating the hit in order to eliminate a potential challenger to his rule.

North Korea denies the claim.

This article contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Is the man in the video really the son of slain Kim Jong-nam?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today