10/13/2010, 00.00
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Beijing to protect Kim Jong-il’s first-born

Kim Jong-nam, the deal leader’s first son, fell from grade in 2001 and now lives in Macau. In recent days, he criticised the regime’s dynastic succession, causing the ire of his brother Kim Jong-un, official heir to North Korea’s dictator.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – China, North Korea’s only international ally, is protecting Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-il’s eldest son, from possible attacks from backers of his third son Kim Jong-un, heir designate to the Communist regime, Chosun Ilbo reported. The eldest son lives in Macau, a Chinese autonomous region, and two days ago expressed his opposition to the dynastic succession, causing the ire of the third son of the ‘dear leader’.

The Seoul newspaper wrote that a plot is underway against Kim Jong-nam and his family, who divide their time between mainland China and the former Portuguese colony. The allegations are based on sources in the South Korean government, which claim that the 39-year-old oldest son was China’s man in case of a sudden collapse of the North Korean regime.

Last week, during celebrations for the 65th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party, the regime’s leadership came out in full force, including the heir apparent. As a sign of his new status, Kim Jong-un was raised to the rank of a four-star general and made deputy chairman of the central military commission. At the end of the party congress, the first official picture showing him and his father was released.

On this occasion, Kim Jong-il appeared very ill. Many think he suffered a stroke in August 2008, and is burdened with chronic diseases like diabetes.

Originally thought to be in line to succeed his father, Kim Jong-nam fell from grace in 2001 when he clumsily tried to get into Disneyland in Tokyo on a fake Dominican passport.

Instead, he ended up in self-imposed exile in Macau, playing in the city’s many casinos, where he developed rubbed shoulders with powerful Chinese leaders. For some, he has especially become intimate with the children of top Chinese officials, also keen gamblers.

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