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Former chef to North Korean dictator dishes on change prospects with Kim Jong-un
With new blood, of course, the question of change is inevitable. Under Kim Jong-il, there have been brief, constrained flirtations with some activities that could be described as capitalism, particularly in the depths of the famine that struck the nation. Marketplaces for privately grown or procured goods opened, resulting in a black market in plain sight that was subject only to occasional government intervention.
So, can we look for Kim Jong-un to loosen the family's (allegedly) merciless grip on the country? One man doesn't think so.
Fujimoto told reporters in Seoul last week not to expect too much too soon. The Wall Street Journal does report that there is long-term hope, however:
Kim Jong Eun, the dictator's third son who's emerged as his likely successor, will ultimately have to open up the country, above all, to feed people, Mr. Fujimoto said. But the younger Kim won't be able to do so in the near term because of his fragile standing in the party.
"He will have no choice but to continue policies set by his father at least for several years," Mr. Fujimoto said. "So it's not until a decade later when a policy change, if any, would materialize."
The chef escaped from North Korea in 2001, without being able to take his wife and two children. He has since written four books about his experiences in the DPRK.
Fujimoto watched the next leader grow up, telling the Wall Street Journal, "I've seen him since he was seven, and he always took the lead when he played with his brothers, and his strong leadership disposition was clearly visible."
[photo by yeowatzup via Flickr]