As the world watches North Korea to see what will unfold next following the death of its “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, one thing is for certain: The country’s next ruler won’t be Jong-il’s second son, Kim Jong-chul, who the Dear Leader reportedly often boozily bemoaned was too effeminate to lead.
Like most things North Korean, Jong-chul is shrouded in mystery, but it is known that he’s the 30-year-old son of Jong-il and the late despot’s former consort Ko Young-hee.
He was educated in Switzerland and really really likes Eric Clapton: Earlier this year, Jong-chul was spotted at an Clapton concert in Singapore. In 2006 he attended several Clapton dates in Germany, then asked the rocker to perform in Pyongyang. (Clapton’s not exactly Elton or Mariah, so we’re not sure how that factors in determining his sexuality.)
For a few years early last decade, after it became clear that Dear Leader’s oldest son was way too much of a boob to ever take a leadership role, Jong-chul seemed the heir apparent—especially after the North Korean military started referring to Jong-chul’s mother as “The Respected Mother who is the Most Faithful and Loyal ‘Subject’ to the Dear Leader Comrade Supreme Commander.”
But Jong-chul’s role as successor started to unravel in 2003, when a former family sushi chef, using the pen-name Kenji Fujimoto, published a tell-all book in which he called Jong-chul useless because he was “like a girl.” In 2009, it was widely announced that son #3, Kim Jong-un, 28, would now be North Korea’s Next Top Dictator.
Were Jong-chul to magically rise to power, it wouldn’t be the first time Korea was (maybe) gay-led. 14th century ruler Gongmin of Goryeo—interestingly, also a second son—was so notoriously boy-crazy that a 2008 South Korean film, A Frozen Flower, depicted a fictionalized account of the king’s romance with military commander Hong Lim.
Image via Korea Times