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Last Updated: Monday, 27 August 2007, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Exiled son 'returns to N Korea'
Kim Jong-nam (file image)
Kim Jong-nam has lived in China for several years
The eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has returned from China to Pyongyang to work, a South Korean daily has reported.

Kim Jong-nam, 36, is working at a key agency of the ruling Workers' Party, the Choson Ilbo said, quoting an intelligence source.

This has prompted speculation that a rumoured rift between father and son may have been mended, the daily said.

If true, it could have implications for the closely-watched succession issue.

Kim Jong-il has ruled the impoverished nation since the death of his father, Kim Il-sung.

He has not yet specified which of his sons he intends to succeed him.

'Decisive relations'

Kim Jong-nam was thought to have been out of favour since he was caught in 2001 trying to enter Japan with a false passport. He subsequently lived in China for several years.

Kim Jong-il (file image)

Some analysts had believed that Kim Jong-il's two sons by a different wife were being positioned as likely heirs.

But according to intelligence officials quoted by the Choson Ilbo, Kim Jong-nam ended his exile in China around June.

He is currently working in the party's Organisation and Guidance Department, the source said. Kim Jong-il began his work in government in the same department.

Separately, an individual described by the Associated Press news agency as close to Kim Jong-nam confirmed his return to North Korea and said that it had "decisive relations to the power transfer".

South Korea's National Intelligence Agency declined to confirm the report.




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