Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of late dictator Kim Jong-il, who reportedly fled Macau, where he had been living for a number of years, when his younger brother assumed control of North Korea, has reappeared in Singapore.
Jong-nam, who had been living in the Special Administrative Region for a number of years, ostensibly under the protection of the Chinese government, fled in January, allegedly due to a fear that his brother, Kim Jong-un, would try to have him assassinated in order to shore up his control of the tiny kleptocracy.
In October, South Korean authorities indicted a North Korean agent for violating the National Security Law. Prosecutors said Kim Yong-su had been ordered by the North Korean regime to travel to China in July 2010 to kidnap Kim Jong-nam.
Kim Yong-su has reportedly confessed to planning to bribe a Chinese taxi driver to drive into Kim Jong-nam and disguise it as an accident and claim diplomatic immunity to get him back to North Korea.
The Chosun Ilbo reported that Kim Jong-nam moved to Singapore because his apartments in Macau were known to the media and North Korean agents. He opted to settle in Singapore as it is easy for him to travel to Europe, where his 17-year-old son is a student at an international college in Bosnia. His wife, Lee Hye-kyong and his daughter, 13, are believed to still be living in Macau.
Since falling out of favour with his father in 2003, Jong-nam has consistently tried to present himself as a reformer, claiming that it was his liberal ideals, rather than the embarrassment he caused the regime with the Disneyland incident, that caused him to lose his place in the succession. It is debatable however, how much Jong-nam’s apparent appetite for reform is his merely parroting lines he knows his hosts, particularly China, want to hear.