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Rumours suggest N. Korean leader’s brother seeking asylum

Publication Date : 02-11-2012


Speculation is growing about the whereabouts of Kim Jong-nam, the elder brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with one rumour suggesting that he is seeking asylum in Seoul in the face of an assassination threat.

The son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has recently been absent from the public eye. Citing informed sources, local media have reported that Kim has requested asylum through the South’s intelligence channels from a third country.

The rumour surfaced on a social networking service in Japan.

Regarding his whereabouts, Won Sei-hoon, chief of the National Intelligence Service, said that it is “difficult to divulge”, according to Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of the ruling Saenuri Party who is on the National Assembly’s intelligence committee.

“I got the feeling from Won’s remarks that the NIS appears to know Kim’s whereabouts,” Yoon said in an interview.

Kim, 41, was once regarded as the heir apparent to the late leader. But he apparently fell out of his father’s favour after his arrest in May 2001 while attempting to enter Japan on a forged passport.

He has since bided his time in China and other neighbouring countries. He is Kim Jong-un’s half brother.

Since Jong-un was officially picked as the dynastic successor in the party’s major congregation in September 2010, Jong-nam has disparaged the third-generation succession, doubted his brother’s untested leadership and asserted the need for an openness policy to shore up the moribund economy of the North.

Jong-nam is speculated to have met his aunt Kim Kyong-hui, the younger sister of the late dictator, in Singapore in September. Kyong-hui allegedly visited Singapore either for the purpose of meeting Jong-nam or to get medical treatment.

Some analysts say that Jong-nam, with directives from Pyongyang, might be striving to secure investment from Russia and other nations.

Jong-nam was educated in Switzerland and the former Soviet Union in the 1980s. Due to his overseas studies, he has reportedly championed capitalist economic principles and sweeping reform to prevent the reclusive state from collapsing.


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