Kim Jong-un's Swiss classmate: 'He has to make change' (RT exclusive)
27 Dec, 2011 08:08
North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-il will be buried on Wednesday, but what the world still wants to know is where the often unpredictable country will go next. Little is known about his successor, except he is in his 20s and studied in Switzerland.
The death of the North Korean dictator has raised questions and hopes over whether the dictatorship, one of the last in the world, will follow. Or will this extremely closed society remain isolated under its new leader too?Not much is known about the late leader’s “Great Successor”. His third – and youngest – son, Kim Jong-un, is a bit of a dark horse. Even his age remains a subject of speculation. He is thought to be 27…or 28.His ascension to power increases the media hunger for information about him, so his expensive education in Switzerland has suddenly attracted a lot more interest. RT spoke to one of his former classmates, to shed some light on the man who now heads arguably the world's most secretive country.An entrepreneur in Moscow with Russian origins, Alexander Hagerty, believes he could have been one of Kim’s classmates. When news spread that Kim Jong-un may have gone to an elite school in the Swiss mountains in the late 1990s, the businessman brought out his old year book to refresh his memory.“There were quite a few Koreans, some quieter than others, and many with the name Kim – Kim is the most common name in the Koreas,” Alexander Hagerty told RT.The businessman remembers that Koreans always differed from other students – shy, disciplined and very competitive.“They were very disciplined, very serious for their age,” he continued. “They wouldn’t always take part in fun games with other students. They studied very hard. They didn’t like to lose.”Although some think that the deceased leader’s son may be a figure-head overshadowed by his recently promoted uncle, who is thought to wield the real power, Alexander says the three years Jong-un has apparently spent in Europe may change the country’s future forever.“I think that it will make them realize that he has to do something good for his people, for his country and make a change in terms of past experience, his knowledge of foreign languages and the skills that he managed to attain being abroad,” Hagerty concluded.The outside world used to get most of its news from behind North Korea's iron curtain through the country’s strictly censored state-run media. Covering the life of this secretive society from the inside has been an almost impossible task for international journalists. But the details emerging now about the new leader's exposure to the liberal West offer a glimmer of hope that he may ease back the rigid control of a totalitarian regime and, begin to open North Korea to the world – and maybe the world to North Korea.