It is known that Kim Jong Il’s eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, has been staying in Beijing, China since last week.
According to Yonhap News, a South Korean news agency, several diplomatic sources reported on the 16th that Kim Jong Nam, who returned to Pyongyang in late July, headed back to Beijing by North Korea’s national airline Koryo Air in the middle of last week.
A source from the South Korean government confirmed that “He visited Pyongyang to participate in the commemorative events on September 9 and has now returned to Beijing.”
Some extrapolate from this that Kim Jong Il’s condition may be improving.
However, some others consider it is natural because Kim Jong Nam’s visits to North Korea do not commonly last for more than a month if there are not any special issues involved.
Kim Jong Nam has been coming and going from Macau and other cities for some time, maintaining a base around Beijing and visiting Pyongyang on special days like his father’s birthday.
Kim Jong Nam, the son of Kim Jong Il and Sung Hye Rim, a former famous actress, was predominantly educated in international schools in Switzerland. In May, 2001, he received some unwanted attention from the international media when he tried to enter Japan in secret, using a false Dominican Republic passport.
Since that event, he has been in exile around Beijing, Hong Kong, and Macau, Uzbekistan or in Russia. He seemed to have fallen behind his half brother Jong Cheol in the competition to be the successor to Kim Jong Il as a consequence. However, his position as a candidate for the succession has improved since 2007 under the influence of Jang Sung Taek, Kim Jong Il’s brother-in-law.
While staying in Beijing, he associates with the son of Jiang Zemin, former President of China, and other second-generation Chinese leaders, so called “Taizidang” (princes group). Therefore, some rumor that Jong Nam is being supported by China in order to become the next leader of North Korea.