February 17, 2011 10:53
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's middle son spent a week in Singapore under escort by North Korean Embassy staff.
A local diplomatic source said Kim Jong-chol (30) and his entourage arrived in Singapore on Feb. 8 and went shopping and attended an Eric Clapton concert under escort and guidance of the local embassy. Since he has no official title, it seems that he had no official schedule in the island country, the sourced said.
Kim and his entourage had bought plenty of jewelry and designer clothes, including gifts for his father's 70th birthday, in the country's famous luxury malls.
Rumors had been circulating within diplomatic circles in Singapore that Kim Jong-chol would arrive to watch a concert by the famous aging rocker, another source said. "Embassy staff working as his bodyguards rudely blocked the way on Monday when some people took photos of him at the venue."
Clapton only gave one concert in Singapore. Kim had also gone to see him play in Germany in 2006.
In Singapore, Kim and his entourage reportedly stayed at the five-star Pan Pacific Hotel, but the hotel's general manager Mark Chang declined to comment. When shown a photo of Kim Jong-chol, other hotel staff said there were several guests with the family name Kim, but they were unable to identify Kim from the picture.
Suites at the 37-story, 778-room hotel near Marina Square in downtown Singapore cost W600,000 (US$1=W1,120) per night.
Kim Jong-il's eldest son Jong-nam (40) has also frequently visited Singapore.
A South Korean government official on Wednesday said Kim Jong-nam, who likes gambling, has been to Singapore at least four times after the Resorts World Sentosa Casino opened in February and Marina Bay Sands Casino in April last year.
He reportedly stayed in a suite at The St. Regis Hotel, a six-star hotel, which cost W900,000 per night.
A local official said, "Singapore established diplomatic relations with North Korea before South Korea, and several officials in the government are friendly with North Korea. Senior North Korean figures visit Singapore often, possibly because they feel restrained in Macau or Beijing, where they are exposed to Chinese intelligence agencies."
The North and Singapore opened trade missions in 1968 and established consulates general the following year. South Korea opened a trade mission in Singapore in 1970 and upgraded it to a consulate general in 1972.
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