Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's eldest son Kim Jong-nam has resurfaced in Beijing a month after his father's death. He was spotted by South Koreans including Park Seung-jun, a professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Incheon University, waiting at Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital International Airport for an Air China flight to Macau on Saturday afternoon.
Kim Jong-nam was wearing a padded navy blue jacket, jeans and a light-blue baseball cap. He was alone.
Witnesses spotted Kim in the Air China business lounge searching the Internet on a computer. Asked if he had ever visited South Korea, Kim answered, "How can I go to [South] Korea?" Badgered by a businessman to write the words "peaceful reunification" on a piece of paper, Kim wrote in English, "peace."
Park and his companions ran into Kim again at the gate before he boarded Air China flight 3603 to Macau at 4:15 p.m. When Park asked him, "Aren't you Kim Jong-nam?" he replied, "Yes. Yes, that's right." Asked if he was on his way to Macau and whether he usually traveled alone, Kim replied, "I usually do. I travel by myself." The group asked him if he had been surprised by his father's sudden death, and Kim said, "It's only natural."
In response to the question whether he had attended his father's funeral, he mumbled a response. The group put it to him that as the eldest son he now finds himself with a responsibility to take care of his younger brothers, including heir to the leadership Kim Jong-un, and Kim Jong-nam replied, "I guess so."
Kim was said to have perspired a lot even though it was not very hot in the airport. He appeared nervous, constantly looking around as he waited in front of the gate and clutching a brown bag. His Korean sounded awkward and stilted. There were no bodyguards.
Kim is a frequent visitor to Beijing, where his first wife and son Kum-sol (15) live.
Diplomatic sources in Beijing say Kim Jong-nam was holed up at his home in Macau after his father's death and did not attend the funeral. His name was certainly not on the list of officials who attended. But his first wife Shin Jong-hui, who had apparently found favor in Kim Jong-il's eyes, and his son Kum-sol did apparently attend.
Last week, Japan's Tokyo Shimbun daily quoted an e-mail from Kim Jong-nam denouncing the dynastic power transfer in North Korea.