Kim Jong-Il's Eldest Son Hits Out Over Succession

TOKYO — The eldest son of ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il said that he opposes plans for a hereditary transfer of power to his younger half-brother in the communist state, in rare comments aired on Tuesday.

(Source: AFP) TOKYO — The eldest son of ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il said that he opposes plans for a hereditary transfer of power to his younger half-brother in the communist state, in rare comments aired on Tuesday.

The views of exiled Kim Jong-Nam come as the regime has signalled plans for a dynastic succession and at a huge military parade Sunday showed the heir-apparent Kim Jong-Un in TV broadcasts to its people.

Jong-Nam -- who has lived in Macau and Beijing since apparently falling out of favour with his father in 2001 -- offered his opinion in an interview with Japan's TV Asahi, taped on Saturday in Beijing.

"Personally, I am opposed to the hereditary transfer to a third generation of the family," Jong-Nam said, speaking in Korean.

North Korea has promoted Jong-Un (left) to a four-star general

However, the 39-year-old also said that he would accept his father's choice and that "for my part, I am prepared to help my younger brother whenever necessary while I stay abroad".

North Korea's fragile leader himself took over power in the impoverished nation from his father and founding president Kim Il-Sung, who died in 1994, in the communist world's only family succession.

Kim Jong-UN was named one of two vice-chairmen to the Workers' Party of KoreaIn recent weeks the leader, who suffered a stroke two years ago, has signalled that he has chosen little-known Jong-Un as his successor.

Swiss-educated Jong-Un, who is believed to be aged about 27, was made a four-star general and given key party posts late last month, when his official photo was also published for the first time.

Jong-Nam also told TV Asahi about the Pyongyang succession plans: "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 added: "I hope my younger brother will do his best to make the lives of the North Korean people affluent."

He also said there may have been "certain internal reasons" for the planned power shift from father to son, and that if this was the case, "I think we have to abide by it."

Pyon Jin-Il, a Tokyo-based political analyst, said that Jong-Nam is "known to be a straight talker" and had made comments in the past that put him at odds with his father's regime.

"He gave the answer as he was well aware of criticism in South Korea against the hereditary succession," he said, pointing out that Jong-Nam has extensive ties with South Korea.

"He effectively dampened North Korea's effort to advertise Kim Jong-Un as the successor. After making this comment, Kim Jong-Nam may not return to North Korea and must continue his life abroad."

Pyon added: "What he meant by 'internal circumstances' are possibly Kim Jong-Il's declining health and the fact that the appointment of one of his sons as his successor could prevent a power struggle after his departure."

Secretive North Korea put its leader-in-waiting on show Sunday at a huge military parade, one of the largest for years in the hardline communist state, which was aired live by state TV and foreign broadcasters.

Kim Jong-Nam now lives in China after falling out of favour with his father in 2001

The nuclear-armed nation ostensibly staged the event to mark the party's 65th anniversary, but it seemed designed to highlight the start of a second dynastic succession process.

Jong-Nam, who was born to a different mother from Jong-Un, apparently spoiled his leadership prospects after being deported from Japan in 2001 for trying to enter the country on a fake Dominican Republic passport.

The failed bid to enter Japan -- reportedly to visit Tokyo Disneyland -- along with two women and his son is believed to have enraged his father.

Jong-Nam -- who in the mid-nineties was made a general and head of foreign counter-intelligence in the secret police -- now lives with his wife and two children in an upscale Macau villa complex.

He splits his time between Macau and Beijing, where he also owns a home, while taking trips to Vienna, Bangkok and Moscow.