Kim Jong-il’s Son Sells Weapons Abroad: Report

Korea Times
1/13/2007

Kim Jong-nam, believed to be the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, has taken charge of the overseas sales of North Korean military weapons.

The junior Kim, 35, went back to Pyongyang via a Koryo Air flight from Beijing on Tuesday after getting a lot of media attention during his three-day stay in the Chinese capital.

According to the Segye Times, a vernacular daily, Jong-nam has made profits for his country by selling military weapons such as Scud medium-range missiles and SA-16 surface-to-air missiles overseas.

He invested money in real estate and overseas banks offering high interest rates in several countries including Britain, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, said the report based on comments from an expert on North Korean affairs in Japan.

On Sunday Kim was spotted by Japanese television crews at Beijing International Airport. His appearance in Beijing sparked interest among North Korea watchers, as the six-party talks over the North’s nuclear weapons programs were being held there.

Reports said Kim was on a three-day layover on his way back home to attend his father’s 65th birthday party, which falls on Friday.

Wearing a Reebok baseball cap and blue jeans as well as a gold necklace, Kim showed off his foreign language skills in brief interviews with the news media including Japan’s Fuji television.

Asked whether he speaks Japanese, he answered in Japanese that he didn’t understand the language. He also said he speaks a little bit of English and French as he studied in Europe for several years.

Kim said he meets with his father “sometimes” but did not elaborate on their relationship.

According to reports Kim stayed at his favorite hotel, the Kempinski Hotel located adjacent to the South Korean embassy in Beijing during his short visit.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reported earlier this month that the North Korean leader’s son has been spending most of his time for the past three years at casinos, saunas and luxury hotels in Macau, the former Portuguese enclave near Hong Kong.

Kim was photographed in the city by a newspaper as he left his favorite hotel, the Mandarin Oriental.

According to the South China Morning Post, he has frequently visited Macau’s casinos and often goes out drinking late at night.

There have been rumors that fell out of favor with his father in 2001 when he embarrassed the regime in a bizarre incident in Japan.

Kim was briefly detained at Tokyo’s airport where he tried to enter Japan on a fake Dominican Republic passport. He was on his way to visit Tokyo Disneyland, reports said.

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