North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's grandson was starting classes at a private high school for international students in Bosnia, an official said Friday, as a media scrum competed for a glimpse of the teenager.
Officials at the United World College's branch in Mostar said 16-year-old North Korean student Kim Han Sol came to Bosnia a month and a half after classes started because he was refused a visa to Hong Kong, where he had planned to study at another branch. He is the first student from North Korea to attend any of the 13 United World College schools across the globe.
An official confirmed he was Kim's grandson on condition of anonymity because she was not permitted to speak publicly.
AP Television News obtained amateur video in which the student says, "I'm very happy, I love Mostar. I like the food; the people are very nice here."
TV news crews from Japan and South Korea have sought for days to get a glimpse of the boy in the dormitory or on his way to classes, with students saying one crew went door-to-door in the dormitory looking for him.
Officials have been publicly cagey about the boy's identity, but the chairman of the school's founding board has acknowledged that the acceptance of a North Korean student "from a very well-known family" has generated controversy.
Jasminka Bratic, the president of the school's board in Bosnia, said it is the legal guardian of all its minor students and determined to protect their privacy.
The school maintains that his attendance is a step toward bringing North Korea closer to the rest of the world. The United Colleges movement was founded in 1962 with the aim of overcoming Cold War divisions, and selects students with a sense of idealism who aspire to be "active global citizens who will help the positive processes in their countries," spokeswoman Meri Musa said.
The school in Mostar, 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Sarajevo, opened in 2006 and now has 124 students from 34 countries and territories, including Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The school is located at the former front line dividing Mostar in two when war broke out between Muslim Bosnians and Catholic Croats in 1992-95. The opening of the school was credited with contributing to reconciliation in the city.