February 16, 2011 10:04
The middle son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il recently spent 10 leisurely days in Singapore, going on luxury shopping sprees and attending an Eric Clapton concert. Kim Jong-chol, like his older brother Jong-nam, was passed over for the succession to the North Korean leadership in favor of their younger brother Jong-un.
A North Korean source on Tuesday said Kim Jong-chol visited Singapore with a woman who appeared to be his wife as well as members of an orchestra and checked into a suite at the Pan Pacific Hotel, costing W600,000 (US$1=W1,121) a night. Sporting a pierced ear, Jong-chol visited the Singapore Waterpark and Universal Studios and bought a diamond and, possibly, a gift for his father's 70th birthday, which falls on Wednesday. He then attended Clapton's performance at the Indoor Stadium on Monday sitting in the VIP section where seats cost W350,000. The source said Jong-chol also bought a lot of souvenirs at the concert including T-shirts with Clapton's face on them.
He left Singapore after the concert for Beijing, where he switched to a flight to Pyongyang.
Jong-chol went to international school in Switzerland in the 1990s like his younger brother, the leader's heir presumptive Jong-un. He is apparently fluent in English and German and interested in computers. He also likes basketball and is a fan of Michael Jordan. He has been spotted wearing a Chicago Bulls T-shirt.
Japan's Fuji TV caught up with Jong-chol at an Eric Clapton concert in Germany in June 2006. The broadcaster reported that he appeared to suffer from a condition where his body secreted abnormally large amounts of female hormones, causing his physique and voice to become feminine, possibly as a result of steroid abuse prompted by his fascination with Belgian actor Jean Claude Van Damme.
A woman Fuji TV captured on film with Jong-chol in 2006 was beautiful with chiseled features, while the one in Singapore believed to be his wife looked chubby.
The German weekly Der Spiegel reported in November 2005 that Jong-chol attended a banquet during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Pyongyang, and Japan's Mainichi Shimbun said he was appointed to a key post in the North Korean Workers' Party.
South Korean intelligence believe those reports were incorrect, but a Unification Ministry official said this suggests Jong-chol had been considered a candidate to succeed his father up until the mid 2000s.
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