A video clip showing a man presumed to be North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son Jong-chol (25) in Germany has been broadcast by Japan's Fuji TV. Jong-chol is widely tipped to be his father's chosen successor. Two Americans who say they were friends of Kim junior at school in Switzerland told the TV network the man in the video is Kim Jong-chol.
He was born to Kim Jong-il and Ko Yong-hui, Kim's second wife who died in May 2004, and studied as a teenager in Bern and Geneva, Switzerland. After his older brother Kim Jong-nam (36) embarrassed himself in Japan and China, Jong-chol is expected to succeed his father as North Korean leader.
The man in the clip is about 170 cm tall and is accompanied by a young woman. The party consists of four or five people. Fuji TV said Kim was in Germany for an Eric Clapton concert.
The footage adds substance to rumors that Kim junior is in Europe. That has given rise to speculation that there is factional strife in the North over the succession. North Korea experts here remain fundamentally skeptical that the Kim family can rule the country for a third generation. Kim Jong-il, after being officially appointed as his late father's successor in 1974, played the role of a de-facto No. 1 over 20 years. But at the time, the North Korean economy was not in the dire straits it is in now.
"Kim Jong-il had no difficulty taking power after his father because he'd been groomed for the position for a long time," a South Korean government source said. "But that would not be the case for his sons. There are many North Korea experts overseas who agree on this point."