Kim Jong-Il's eldest son in Paris
13 November 2007, TOKYO - A man purported to be the colourful eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has resurfaced in Paris, where he said he was visiting a dentist, Japanese television said Tuesday.
13 November 2007
TOKYO - A man purported to be the colourful eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has resurfaced in Paris, where he said he was visiting a dentist, Japanese television said Tuesday.
Kim Jong-Nam, who in 2001 was expelled from Japan for reportedly trying to go to Disneyland, had last been spotted living the high life in southern China's casino haven of Macau, where he has apparently stayed for a few years.
Japan's Fuji Television showed footage from Paris of a stout man in a fashionable pin-striped suit whom it identified as the 36-year-old eldest son of the North Korean strongman.
The man smiled as he left a luxurious hotel and headed by limousine to a building near the Champs Elysees, comfortably dodging questions in impeccable French.
"I just went to the dentist and I can't talk much. I'm sorry," he said, covering his mouth with his hand.
Asked about his French skills, he responded: "Everyone knows I studied in Europe."
Kim Jong-Nam is said to have studied computers in Switzerland when he was younger.
The man was approached by a crew from Fuji News Network, of which Fuji Television is the flagship station. The network said it shot the footage this month and that Kim had spent about a week in France, which has no diplomatic relations with North Korea.
The network said Kim spent an hour and a half in the building, in what he said was a dentist's surgery, and had been seeing going to the same location on another date.
Japan's top government spokesman, asked about the report, said that Tokyo was closely watching succession in arch-enemy North Korea.
"We are highly interested (in the succession issue) and we are gathering various information. But we are not at a point where we can have an outlook for the future," Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said.
Kim Jong-Nam is the son of Kim Jong-Il and well-known actress Sung Hae-Rim, according to his cousins who defected to the West.
Around 2000 the North Korean regime began dropping hints that Jong-Nam might be groomed as the next leader to continue father-son succession in the world's only communist family dynasty.
But in 2001 he embarrassed his father when he was very publicly expelled from Japan for trying to enter the country on a forged Dominican Republic passport issued in the Chinese name Pan Xiong.
The incident was intensively reported in Japan and abroad as Kim reportedly told investigators he wanted to take his young son to Tokyo Disneyland.
However, some have doubted that he was heading to the iconic American theme park, speculating he was in Japan for arms deals or other reasons.
In August, South Korea's best-selling Chosun Ilbo said Kim Jong-Nam was back in the loop and had returned to Pyongyang to take a key position, running the ruling Workers' Party's organisation and guidance department.
His younger half-brothers Jong-Chul and Jong-Woon have also been seen as potential successors to their 65-year-old father.
Kim Jong-Il has long suffered from diabetes and problems with his heart and liver, South Korean intelligence officials have said, although they add there are no signs his health has worsened recently.
The elder Kim, however, repudiated reports he had health problems when he met last month with South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun and gulped down a glass of wine at dinner.
Subject: French news