Kim Jong-nam Resurfaces in Singapore

The eldest son of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has apparently been living in Singapore since the beginning of this year.

Government sources here said Kim Jong-nam (41) moved to Singapore at the end of January after spending the New Year with his family at his former home in Macau.

"I saw Kim three times in the last seven months," said one source in Singapore, twice in the lobby of the new luxury Marina Bay Sands Hotel and once in the Orchard Road shopping area. Kim was wearing sunglasses.

Kim Jong-nam's son Han-sol (17) is at an international school in Bosnia, while his second wife, Lee Hye-kyong and daughter Sol-hui (13) apparently still live in Macau.

South Korean intelligence officials do not believe that Kim Jong-nam met his aunt Kim Kyong-hui (66), a key figure behind the new regime of his younger brother Kim Jong-un, when she went to Singapore for medical treatment in September.

Kim lived a playboy life in Macau until his father's sudden death in December last year, from where he occasionally spoke with the Japanese press criticizing North Korea. But once Kim Jong-un came to power in January this year, he disappeared from the radar.

Kim moved to Singapore because his two apartments and house in Macau were known to the press and North Korean spies, according to an informed source. He is believed to have feared for his safety.

There were concerns that Kim Jong-un could seek to assassinate him for making unfavorable comments about his succession and to consolidate his grip on power.

"Around 2008, Kim Jong-nam moved to a luxurious apartment in Macau near the international school his son attended, but the location of that house was exposed when Han-sol invited his girlfriend home," said one source in Macau.

Singapore is a Southeast Asian transport hub and is convenient for Kim Jong-nam as he travels back and forth to Europe, where his son goes to school and where another aunt, Song Hye-rang, lives.

Kim Jong-nam's mother Song Hye-rim died in Moscow in 2002, but he apparently stays in touch with his aunt. Song Hye-rang's son Lee Han-young defected to South Korea in 1982 but was killed by North Korean agents in 1997.

"To my knowledge Kim Jong-nam has a sizable bank account in Singapore. He should not have any financial difficulties living there," the source said.

Kim himself went to school in Switzerland, and there are unconfirmed rumors that he eventually plans to move to Europe.

englishnews@chosun.com / Nov. 15, 2012 09:27 KST