Macau: The man who could have inherited the throne in North Korea`s Communist dynasty instead lives a pampered life in the glitzy Asian gambling hub of Macau, all but banished by the country`s ruling elite.
The reclusive Stalinist state is preparing for its biggest political meeting in decades on Tuesday, with widespread speculation that leader Kim Jong-Il will tap his youngest son, Jong-Un, for the top job.
That honour might have gone to Kim Jong-Nam, 39, the North Korean leader`s eldest son, until he was exiled following a scandal in 2001 when he was caught entering Japan on a fake Dominican Republic passport -- enraging his father.
Since then, Jong-Nam has passed his days drinking and eating in the former Portuguese colony`s five-star restaurants, trying his luck at the gambling table and spending some of his USD 500,000 annual allowance in the territory`s luxury brand stores.
He lives with his wife and two children in an upscale villa complex on Macau`s southern tip, a quiet enclave of pink-tiled houses overlooking the South China Sea – although his exact location proved elusive.
"Oh, the big son? Yes, he lives around here but I`m not sure which one," said a taxi driver pointing at rows of cookie-cutter homes.
An employee at the five-star Altira Hotel said the multilingual Kim -- who learned English and French at a Swiss boarding school -- drops by sometimes.
"I know Mr Kim, but I haven`t seen him today," he said.
Wearing an untucked dress shirt and blue suede loafers, Jong-Nam gave a brief interview to a South Korean reporter in June, denying reports he planned to defect to Europe and saying his reportedly ill father was in good health.
He splits his time between Macau and Beijing -- where he also owns a home -- while taking trips to Vienna, Bangkok and Moscow.
Like his father, Jong-Nam is reportedly fond of the best that money can buy and has a second home in the city where he stays after late nights in one of his favourite karaoke bars or casinos. His three bodyguards live there too, reports said, while his mistress resides in a rented flat nearby.
The low-key son of North Korea`s leader, who has been spotted taking taxis or even the bus without an army of security, takes a keen interest in his family, including his 14-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter.
The family has gone on camping trips or jaunts around the city and even outdoor trips with the Lusophone Scouts, the international movement`s Portuguese-speaking affiliate.