The 17-year-old grandson of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il granted a TV interview providing a rare look at a member of the secretive Kim family dynasty.
"I've always dreamed that one day I would go back and make things better and make it easier for the people there," Kim Han Sol said in the interview posted on YouTube.
Kim Han Sol grew up with one foot in a privileged international community on Macau and the other in North Korea, a country known for persistent hunger and political repression under the rule of his grandfather and great grandfather.
The teen appeared articulate and impeccably dressed in a 20 minute English-language interview with reporter Elisabeth Rehn, a former United Nations official and Finnish defense minister. It originally aired on Finnish television and was uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday, according a report by Radio Free Europe.
Kim Han Sol, a student at the UN-sponsored World College in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, is the son of Kim Jong Nam — the eldest of Kim Jong Il’s sons and once viewed as the favorite to inherit power in the authoritarian North of the Korean peninsula. But the aging dictator instead handed the reins to Kim Jong Un, his youngest son, who is believed to be about 28.
According to the interview, Kim Han Sol’s family moved to Macau a few years after he was born, but he visited North Korea in the summers, spending time with his mother's relatives, whom he described as "ordinary" citizens. But he said he was isolated from other Korean kids and was never told that his grandfather was the country's ruler.
"Little by little, through conversations that my parents had, I started to put the puzzle pieces together," he said, and a little wistfully, described how he wished to meet his grandfather.
"I was actually waiting for him before he passed away, hoping that he would come find me because I really didn’t know if he knew that I existed," Kim told the interviewer.
Kim's father Kim Jong Nam has occasionally surfaced to speak to the international press in Macau, sharing his view that his home country needs economic reforms and cannot survive under a dynastic succession. In the past year, the South Korean press reported, Kim Jong Nam has dropped out of sight again.
Kim Han Sol avoided media coverage when he first started at school last fall and was mobbed by cameras and reporters.
In the Finnish television interview, he said he has come to feel at home in the multicultural setting of his school and spends "hours and hours" in the evenings chatting with friends from around the world about how to resolve their respective conflicts back home.
It had been "quite an interesting experience" having a roommate from Libya, he said, "especially when the (2011) revolution happened, he was really enthusiastic about it," Kim Han Sol said. "He told me many stories about how he went home… and saw a different Libya."
The uprising against long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi finally forced the dictator from power in August 2011. Gadhafi, who fled Tripoli, was later found hiding in southern Libya, and killed shortly after at the hands of revolutionary forces.
More world stories from NBC News:
- Self-professed Sept. 11 mastermind Mohammed airs his views at Gitmo hearing
- British government to recruit teens as next generation of spies
- U.S. nonprofit 'names and shames' businesses to put bite into Iran sanctions
- Van full of bodies stolen during drivers' break in Germany
- Revolt of the underclass in Syria
- Fidel Castro statement read at Havana event amid rumors about his health
- Rights group blasts Rwanda winning seat on UN Security Council
- 'Spy of the West': Al-Qaida, Taliban struggle to justify attack on Pakistani teen
- UK computer hacker wins 10 year fight against extradition to US