Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il`s eldest son said in an interview published on Friday that his father opposed continuing the family dynasty into a third generation but ended up naming his youngest son as heir to keep the country stable.
The comments by Kim Jong Nam, portrayed in the media as a casino-loving playboy, were published in a Japanese newspaper just as North Korea proposed holding parliamentary talks with South Korea — its latest diplomatic overture after months of animosity.
A senior US envoy also held high-level talks in China on Friday on ways to deal with North Korea, and Russian and South Korean nuclear envoys held discussions in Seoul.
Kim Jong-Il is preparing his country for a leadership change, apparently to his youngest son Kim Jong-Un, and some analysts have linked two violent incidents last year to an attempt to display the younger Kim`s bravery to North Korea`s military and bolster his legitimacy as the next leader.
Hereditary succession "does not fit with socialism, and my father was against it as well”, the Tokyo Shimbun quoted Kim Jong Nam as saying in an interview in a southern Chinese city in mid-January. "My understanding is that (succession) was to stabilise the internal system. An unstable North Korea leads to instability in the region."
Kim Jong Nam is believed to have fallen out of favour after embarrassing the North Korean government in 2001 when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a fake passport, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland. He favours newsboy caps and Ferragamo loafers, frequents five-star hotels and expensive restaurants and spends much of his time in mainland China or Macau — the centre of Asian gambling.
He said he wants his half brother "to become a leader who is respected by people”.
"I want him to take over the great works my father has done. I want him to enrich people`s lives," he said in the interview. "Those are my honest wishes for my brother. They did not mean to challenge or criticise him."
He declined to comment on the health of his father, who reportedly suffered a stroke in 2008, but said he keeps in touch with family members.
He also said that North Korea`s strength comes from nuclear weapons, and that as long as North Korea confronts the United States, it is very unlikely to give up its atomic programs.
Meanwhile, the North`s Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of Korea proposed on Friday that lawmakers from the two Koreas talk to overcome the "grave situation" on the divided peninsula. It did not elaborate.