The South Korean government is looking into a rumor that Kim Jong Nam, 41, eldest son of Kim Jong Il, the late leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), has asked Seoul for asylum.
Experts on DPRK said Wednesday afternoon that “Kim Jong Nam has recently sought asylum through our domestic intelligence while residing in a third country,” and that “[South Korean-related] authorities have safely secured him.”
The experts also said, “An important figure from DPRK has crossed [the boundary] and it will be big news soon.”
Immediately after the comments, South Korean media outlets requested that the Blue House, Ministry of Unification, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and military officials verify the facts. They, however, played down the rumors.
“There was information posted temporarily on a Japanese social networking Web site about rumors in regards to Kim’s defection, and I believe this message is misleading,” said an official.
Another high-level official from the Blue House said, “[Kim seeking asylum] isn’t true.”
A S.Korean lawmaker said that when he asked the NIS about the rumors later on, the NIS said, “We know there are rumors but they cannot be confirmed.”
Kim Jong Nam is the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, the current DPRK leader. His mother passed away in May 2002 in Moscow due to a heart attack.
Kim Han Sol, Kim Jong Nam’s eldest son, appeared on a Finnish television talk show recently and gave a rare interview.