While I have worked in journalism specialized in North Korea, I have become sick of excessive coverage on North Korea by the Japanese media.
The Japanese TV and newspapers have enthusiastically reported the North Korean news almost every day: Killing of Kim Jong-nam in February. Successive missile launchings. Possibility of war in April. It is overwhelming, but is believed that they have missed other important point. It is the inside story of North Korea.
I would tell how the North Korean people evaluate Kim Jong-un at this time.
The North Korean team of ASIAPRESS, headed by myself, have had total 600 times of contacts with more than 70 North Koreans including 10 reporting partners for five years after the inauguration of Kim Jong-un regime. The public sentiment of North Korea is especially a major concern for the writer. To tell the conclusion in advance, the reputation on Kim Jong-un is at the bottom added by poor evaluation on his wife, Ri Sol-ju.
It was 2012 when Kim Jong-un was 28 years, purportedly born in 1984, that he took the top leader’s position of the State and the Worker’s Party. The world scorned at the weirdness of three generations’ succession of power. While many of the North Koreans expressed opposition at the beginning of his regime, I was surprised to hear some hopeful voices expecting Kim Jong-un to be better.
Related article: ＜Inside North Korea＞ Interview with Two North Koreans: Shock and Horror on Assassination of Kim Jong-nam
The reason was the saying : “As a young man, he may start a new politics,” “As he experienced foreign life, he may open the country and lead reformation.” (Kim Jong-un had stayed in Switzerland for four years for his elementary and middle school days)
The North Korean regime has constantly mobilized its people for ‘Revolution of Chosun’ during almost 65 years of Kim Il-sung/Kim Jong-Il’s reign. The national policy has been “Liberate the South which is a colony of the US and unite it under the socialism.” But the world changed. The cold war structure collapsed. China, representing the socialism, achieved a remarkable economic success. The North Korean people knew it, which led them to expect changes through Kim Jong-un.