Posted by: mulrickillion | February 18, 2012

North Korean secrets lie six feet under

2-18-2012 6-19-32 AM

By Michael Rank, Asia Times Onlines, Feb 18, 2012 —

She died a lonely death, and she lies in a lonely grave. Once close to the center of power in highly secretive North Korea, she died in a Moscow hospital, spurned by her former lover, the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, after suffering from paranoia and depression.

Much remains mysterious about Song Hye-rim, but a journalist from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency recently discovered her grave in Moscow’s Troyekurovskoye cemetery, where she was buried under an assumed name after fleeing Pyongyang following the breakdown of her relationship with Kim Jong-il.

She was suffering from mental illness and fled for medical treatment to Moscow, where she was admitted to hospital as O Sun Hui, the name under which she was originally buried.

But her gravestone now bears her real name, as well as her dates of birth and death – January 24, 1937-May 18, 2002 – and, on the other side of the headstone are inscribed the words “mother of Kim Jong Nam”.

It’s not known if her son has ever visited his mother’s grave, but Kim Jong-nam is certainly the black sheep of the family. The oldest son of Kim Jong-il was born in 1971 and was at one time his heir apparent, but he was disgraced when he was barred from Narita airport in 2001 when he was found to be travelling on a false passport on a trip to Tokyo Disneyland.

He now lives in Macau and southern China, and was recently quoted by a Japanese journalist as saying he expects the North Korean regime to fail because its new leader, his half-brother Kim Jong-eun, is too inexperienced. He said he had never even met his all-powerful half-brother, who is aged about 28.

The South Korean-born Song Hye-rim was an actress and a divorcee with a child when she became Kim Jong-il’s first mistress around 1970. She is said to have entered Pyongyang Film Academy in 1955. . . .

“Jang Song-taek is the smartest one there [in Pyongyang], and he understands that change is urgent and imperative,” Hwang told Harrison. “He has good relations with the army because three of his brothers are generals. He’s the best hope for reform, but it won’t be easy for him.”

That is an understatement, but perhaps there is hope that North Korea will launch much-needed reforms to its sclerotic political and economic system under its mysterious new leader.

Asia Times Online :: North Korean secrets lie six feet under

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