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The BBC's Samantha Simmonds
"Little is known about the children of the North Korean leader
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Tokyo based journalist, Peter Hadfield
"He's certainly not the sort of person who would be defecting"
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The BBC's Charles Scanlon in Tokyo
"Japan will be anxious not to antagonise its frequently hostile neighbour"
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Friday, 4 May, 2001, 03:13 GMT 04:13 UK
Japan expels N Korean leader's 'son'
The man believed to be Kim Jong-nam was escorted to a Beijing-bound plane
"Kim Jong-nam" is escorted to the plane
Japan has deported a man who identified himself as the son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, after he was arrested for travelling on a false Dominican passport.

The man, along with two women and a four-year-old boy who had arrived in the country with him, boarded an All Nippon Airways flight bound for Beijing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il is said to be grooming his son for leadership
According to some reports, the Chinese authorities agreed to accept the man - believed to be Kim Jong-nam - as part of a deal to avoid a diplomatic incident.

He had been in custody since Tuesday, when he arrived at Tokyo's Narita International Airport and admitted that he had paid $2,000 each for the fake passports for him and his travelling companions. He said he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

Japan has no diplomatic relations with North Korea and has been alarmed by the country's missile tests in recent years.

Kim Jong-nam with his father Kim Jong-il in 1981
Kim Jong-nam (right, in 1981) spent part of his childhood abroad
If the man is actually Kim Jong-nam, he is the likely heir to North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim Jong-il.

BBC Tokyo correspondent Charles Scanlon says that the fact that he is being sent to China indicates that the authorities believe his story.

Little is known about the family of Kim Jong-il, but South Korean sources say he has three children by three different women.

Kim Jong-nam, the eldest, is believed to have been born in 1971 to Sung Hae Rim, who apparently never married his father.

Children of Kim Jong-il
Son, Kim Jong-nam, born 1971
Daughter, Kim Sul Song, born 1974
Son, Kim Jong Chul, born 1981
Ms Sung was reported to have defected to the West in 1996, but South Korean intelligence sources denied the report.

More recent reports suggest she is in Moscow, receiving treatment for depression.

The North Korean leader's official wife is Kim Young Sook, the mother of Mr Kim's only daughter, Kim Sul Song.

Travel difficulties

Kim Jong-nam spent part of his childhood in Geneva and Moscow, and is thought to be a computer expert.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
An early diplomatic test for Japan's new PM
He is reported to have travelled to Japan twice last year. But correspondents say North Korea's diplomatic isolation would make it difficult for Kim Jong-nam to enter the country under his own identity.

Pyongyang only has diplomatic relations with a handful of Western countries, so North Koreans may have little option but to use forged passports and make their journeys clandestinely.

Experts say that North Korea is a known source of forged passports and counterfeit dollars.

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See also:

03 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea slow to change
03 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea 'maintains missile test ban'
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