The Corner


Don’t Forget ‘Snow Pine’

This seems to be a period for dictators’ children, one of my shticks. Last week, Fidel Castro Jr. died, and I had an article about him, here. Today, I read this in the New York Times:

The only sister of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, will visit South Korea this week, the first immediate member of the North’s ruling family ever to set foot in the South, officials said on Wednesday.

(Full article here.)

Highly interesting. In all probability, Kim Yo-jong is the current dictator’s only full sister. (You can never be sure about the Kims, for the dictatorship is so secretive.) But he has at least two half-sisters — daughters of his father, the late dictator Kim Jong-il (who succeeded his father, Kim Il-sung, in power).

One of those daughters is Kim Sol-song, whose mother is the bride whom Kim Il-sung selected for his son Jong-il. (He quickly discarded her.) Kim Il-sung gave this granddaughter of his her name — which means “snow pine.”

Kim Jong-il seemed to be very fond of this daughter. He had her work alongside him. She was capable and beautiful. He might have picked her to succeed him — but dictators pick sons, not daughters, and Jong-il chose his youngest, Kim Jong-un.

If you’re interested in all this, consult my Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators.

P.S. If you’re in the mood for a travel journal, I’ve done one concerning Mexico City this week. For Part I, go here. And for the second and final part, go here. A slew of observations cultural, political, and social. (With photos, at no extra cost!)

And if you feel like some music — a review, that is — try this about the latest Parsifal at the Metropolitan Opera. All politics and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

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