China warned N. Korea to leave Kim Jong Il's eldest son alone: report
SEOUL (Kyodo) -- Close aides to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's third son Jong Un, who has been named as his father's successor, planned to attack his outspoken and reform-minded older brother Jong Nam who lives in China, but China apparently told them to leave him alone, a South Korean daily reported Wednesday.
The Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted a South Korean official as saying Jong Un's aides tried "to do something to Jong Nam, who has a loose tongue abroad," but it seems China warned them not to lay a hand on him on Chinese soil.
This reportedly happened after the 27-year-old Jong Un was virtually named as his 68-year-old father's successor in January last year, bypassing Jong Nam.
Last month, after being made a four-star general, Jong Un's became a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea in a move that signaled the start of the father-to-son succession of power,
The plan to move against Jong Nam, 38, was apparently fueled by rumors that China would attempt to march into the North and install Jong Nam as ruler in the event of regime collapse, the report said.
Jong Nam, who reportedly has close ties with China's powerful "princelings," an elite group of the children of senior Chinese officials, has been living in virtual exile in Beijing and Macao since falling out of favor with his father.
"Kim Jong Nam won't go back to the North but (will) stay in China," the South Korean official was quoted as saying.
Jong Nam told Japanese broadcaster Asahi TV in a recent interview that he is against three generations of hereditary succession in his country.