[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
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.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific