October 01, 2014 09:45
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother has surfaced in Paris after keeping a low profile since his uncle and former eminence grise Jang Song-taek was executed last year.
Kim Jong-nam was spotted on Monday by South Korean tourists who said he was staying at the Le Meridien Etoile with a woman who appears to be in her 30s.
One of the tourists said that he saw Kim "four or five days ago with an elegant-looking woman." When accosted by a South Korean reporter, Kim said, "I don't know much about Kim Jong-un or what's happening in North Korea."
After his uncle was executed last December, Kim went to Malaysia and moved on to Indonesia in May. Witnesses said Kim appeared relaxed. One South Korean businessman who stayed at the Le Meridien Etoile said he saw Kim Jong-nam walking outside the hotel smoking a cigarette after breakfast. "He appeared to be in good health," the businessman added.
But Kim did not appear in the lobby or restaurant of the hotel once he found out that he had been identified.
A room at the hotel costs 380 euros a night. The hotel is close to the commercial district of La Défense and the tourist area of Champs-Élysées and is frequented by many wealthy South Koreans. A large number of South Koreans were staying at the hotel to take part in a business conference.
Kim probably came to Paris to see his son Han-sol, who is studying at Le Havre campus of Sciences Po.
Kim Jong-nam has been persona non grata in North Korea since he was nabbed trying to enter Japan on a false passport and lived in well-funded exile in China and Macau until his uncle and protector fell from grace last year.
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