Observers are wondering whether dead North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's estranged half-brother Pyong-il and his eldest son Jong-nam will return from overseas to attend the funeral next week.
Kim Pyong-il, who looks much like his father Kim Il-sung, was once considered a rival to Jong-il for the leadership but was sidelined and has lived in virtual exile as the North's perpetual ambassador to Poland. Kim Jong-nam was believed to be the likely heir but fell from favor and was replaced by his half-brother Jong-un. He leads an itinerant existence in Hong Kong and Macau.
A government official said Wednesday both, as family members, may attend the funeral but no intelligence suggests they are on their way to Pyongyang.
Observers believe Pyong-il is more likely to attend the funeral than Jong-nam. Radio Free Asia on Tuesday quoted a source in Poland as saying Kim Pyong-il seems to have left Warsaw and is highly likely to attend.
But given Kim Jong-nam's open criticism of the hereditary succession to the Japanese press, new leader Jong-un may want to keep his half-brother away, or Jong-nam may decide it is unsafe for him to return.