Kim Jong-il's 'wayward' son objects to succession
The eldest son of Kim Jong-il who was passed over in favour of his younger brother in the race to succeed his father as leader of North Korea, has said that he opposes the idea of a dynastic succession in the secretive Stalinist state.
Kim Jong-nam, 39, who lives in the gambling hub of Macao and was once said to be too "wayward" for the leadership, said he did not approve of the hereditary principle that saw his 27-year-old half-brother Kim Jong-un being groomed as the North's next leader last month.
"Personally I am opposed to the hereditary transfer to a third generation of the family," Jong-nam told Japan's Asahi TV Network in an interview conducted in Beijing on Saturday.
He was speaking before Kim Jong-un made his first major public appearance as leader-in-waiting, standing next to his ailing father while reviewing a massive military parade in Pyongyang on Sunday.
Although disapproving of the hereditary principle, Jong-nam, the son of an actress who died in 2002, said he would continue to support his brother from afar, hinting that he had no plans to return home after his brother took power.
"As a matter of course, I think it was my father who made the decision. As I have had no interest in the matter, I don't care at all," he said.
He added that he also hope that his brother could improve living standards in North Korea which remains desperately poor as a result of crippling economic sanctions and a Soviet-style command-economy.
"I hope my younger brother will do his best to make the lives of the North Korean people affluent. For my part, I am prepared to help my younger brother whenever necessary while I stay abroad." After two years of speculation, the issue of who would succeed Kim Jong-il appeared to have been resolved this month in favour of Kim Jong-un who was promoted to four-star general and given a host of senior political appointments at a key meeting of the North Korea's Workers' Party.
During the mid-1990s the Swiss-educated Kim Jong-nam was often presumed to be the likely successor to the Dear Leader after also being made a general and head of foreign counter-intelligence in the secret police.
However he fell from grace in 2001 after being caught trying to enter Japan on a false Dominican Republic passport, reportedly to visit Tokyo Disneyland with his young son, an act or irresponsibility that is said to have enraged Kim Jong-il.
Since then Jong-nam has lived a relatively quiet domestic life in Macao with his wife and two children, aged 14 and 10, living on a reported $500,000 (€361,000) annual allowance that allows him to maintain a second property in Beijing and make visits to Bangkok and Moscow.