North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-nephew was reportedly taken into CIA custody after disappearing three years ago at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
Kim Han Sol disappeared in 2017 after arriving in the Netherlands from Taiwan. He released a video saying that he was in hiding with his mother and sister. A statement released with the video thanked the United States, China, the Netherlands, and an unnamed fourth country for their assistance in their safe escape, but a new report from the New Yorker suggests that it was the CIA which effected the escape — and in whose custody Kim Han Sol and his family remain.
The CIA declined to comment.
Kim Han Sol was supposed to seek refuge in the Netherlands with the help of the Free Joseon movement and a Dutch human rights lawyer after arriving at Schiphol. But he never exited the gate, according to one of Free Joseon’s supporters, and instead was “taken through a side door to a hotel in the airport.” Sources confirmed that it was the CIA who took Kim Han Sol from the airport, but it’s unclear whether he was relocated to another country or was taken somewhere in the Netherlands.
“Governments are rarely unified in efforts,” a member of the team from Free Joseon told the New Yorker. “This was one of those moments that a foreign ministry and the secret services were at odds with each other … I assume [Free Joseon] lost Han Sol to the CIA.”
Some see Kim Han Sol as “valuable leverage” over the North Korean dictatorship, according to the outlet. Kim Han Sol is the son of Kim Jong Nam, the elder half-brother of Kim Jong Un. Before he fell out of favor with the dynasty, in part due to years living abroad and exacerbated by the international ridicule of a failed attempt to go to Tokyo Disneyland using false Dominican Republic passports, according to the Washington Post, Kim Jong Nam was considered the rightful heir to the dynasty as Kim Jong Il’s oldest son. Before his 2017 assassination, Kim Jong Nam was highly critical of the North Korean regime, saying that it was “a joke to the outside world” and predicting that Kim Jong Un’s regime would not last without reforms, according to the Guardian.
Kim Jong Nam never met Kim Jong Un. He was raised abroad in Geneva before returning to North Korea at 18, but he reportedly made a deal with his father that allowed him to leave North Korea again if he married and had a child, according to the Washington Post. Kim Jong Nam and his family spent most of their time in Macau, under Chinese protection. Kim Jong Nam was poisoned in a Malaysian airport with a lethal nerve agent.