Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Choson Ilbo has a profile on the man who shadows Kim Jong-il at his meetings with the Chinese. Citing a weekly Hong Kong newspaper, CI identifies KJI’s interpreter as Kim Song-nam, a China specialist at the KWP International Department:
“He worked as the official interpreter for the late North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung and leader Kim Jong-il,” it added. “He has attended every high-level talk between China and North Korea over the past two decades.” The North’s official broadcaster described Kim Song-nam as a deputy director of the Workers Party’s International Department. That seems to have been the first time the official North Korean media introduced Kim, formerly a mere interpreter, by his official title, leading to speculation that an éminence grise is stepping cautiously into the limelight.