Kim Jong-chul

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For the South Korean poet, see Kim Jong-chul (poet). For the field hockey player, see Kim Jung-chul.
Kim Jong-chul
Personal details
Born Kim Jong-chul
(1981-09-25) 25 September 1981 (age 34)
Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Nationality North Korean
Political party Workers' Party of Korea
Relations Kim Jong-il (father)
Ko Yong-hui (mother)
Kim Il-sung (grandfather)
Kim Jong-nam (brother)
Kim Jong-un (brother)
Residence Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl 김정철
Revised Romanization Gim Jeongcheol
McCune–Reischauer Kim Chŏngch'ŏl
This is a Korean name; the family name is Kim.

Kim Jong-chul (born 25 September 1981) is the middle son of Kim Jong-il, the former leader of North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea). His older half-brother is Kim Jong-nam. His younger brother is Kim Jong-un, now the leader of North Korea.

In 2007, Jong-chul was appointed deputy chief of a leadership division of the Workers' Party. However, on 15 January 2009, the South Korean News Agency reported that Kim Jong-il appointed his youngest son, Jong-un, to be his successor, passing over Jong-nam and Jong-chul.

These reports were supported in April 2009 when Kim Jong-un assumed a low-level position within the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, since Kim Jong-il was groomed by his own father, Kim Il-sung, in a similar way before becoming North Korean leader in 1994.[1]

Early life[edit]

Kim Jong-chul was born in 1981. He is the middle son of Kim Jong-il and companion Ko Yong-hui, who died in 2004. Until 2001, it was assumed that Kim Jong-il's eventual heir would be his eldest son, Kim Jong-nam, whose mother was Song Hye-rim. But in May 2001, Kim Jong-nam was arrested at New Tokyo International Airport, Japan, travelling on a forged Dominican Republic passport.[2] He was held and then deported to the People's Republic of China. The incident caused Kim Jong-il to cancel a planned visit to China because of the embarrassment to both countries. As a result of this incident, Kim Jong-nam had fallen from favour. He was later reported to be living in Macau.

Heir apparent[edit]

In February 2003, moves began to raise the profile of Kim Jong-chul. The Korean People's Army began a propaganda campaign using the slogan "The Respected Mother is the Most Faithful and Loyal Subject to the Dear Leader Comrade Supreme Commander". Since the "Respected Mother" was described as "[devoting] herself to the personal safety of the comrade supreme commander", and "[assisting] the comrade supreme commander nearest to his body", Western analysts assume that the "Respected Mother" was Ko Yong-hui, mother of Kim Jong-chul and Kim Jong-un.[3] A similar campaign was launched in praise of Kim Jong-il's mother during the later years of Kim Il-sung's life.[3] This suggested that Kim Jong-chul, despite his youth, had emerged with Army backing to be a serious contender to succeed his father.

However, Kenji Fujimoto, Kim Jong-il's personal sushi chef, wrote in his memoir, I Was Kim Jong-il's Cook, that Kim Jong-il thought Jong-chul was "no good because he is like a little girl". Fujimoto believed Kim Jong-il favoured his youngest son, Kim Jong-un.[4]

On 1 June 2009, it was reported that Kim Jong-chul had been passed over as his younger brother, Kim Jong-un, was to succeed his father as the head of the Korean Workers' Party and de facto head of state of North Korea.[5]


Kim Jong-chul was reportedly spotted in Singapore on 14 February 2011, where he was attending an Eric Clapton concert.[6] In late 2011, his father died and his younger brother, Kim Jong-un, did succeed his father as the head of state. He was again apparently seen attending another Eric Clapton concert, this time at the Royal Albert Hall in London in May 2015.[7]


  1. ^ Sang-hun, Choe (April 28, 2009). "Kim’s Son Joins North Korean Defense Panel". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  2. ^ "North Korea's secretive 'first family'". BBC. 15 February 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Global "Kim Jong Chol - Leadership Succession - Democratic People's Republic of Korea." Retrieved 2009 January 20.
  4. ^ "Kim Jong-chul", BBC, 30 September 2010
  5. ^ "N Korea 'names Kim's successor'". BBC. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009. 
  6. ^
  7. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Bradley Martin, Under The Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty, St. Martins (October, 2004), hardcover, 868 pages, ISBN 0-312-32221-6
  • Kenji Fujimoto. I Was Kim Jong Il's Cook. [1]