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N. Korean leader opposed hereditary power transfer, eldest son says

All Headlines 10:59 January 28, 2011

TOKYO, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was against a third-generation power succession, but had no other option in order to stabilize the troubled communist regime, a Japanese newspaper quoted Kim's eldest son as saying in its Friday edition.

Kim Jong-nam, believed to be in his late 30s, has lived abroad for years after apparently falling out of favor with his father for attempting to enter Japan on a fake passport in 2001. He was also quoted as telling a Japanese TV station last October that he opposed the ongoing power transfer to his younger brother, Jong-un.

"Even Chairman Mao Zedong of China did not enforce hereditary succession," Kim was quoted as telling the Tokyo Shimbun earlier this month in an exclusive interview held in a southern Chinese city. "(Hereditary succession) does not fit with socialism, and my father was against it as well."

The Japanese daily did not specify exactly when or where the interview was conducted.

Kim Jong-il is believed to be preparing to hand over the reins to his third and youngest son after naming him a four-star general and giving him top Workers' Party posts in September. The heir apparent has since been accompanying his father at various public and diplomatic events, including a massive military parade and meetings with senior Chinese envoys.

"My understanding is that (the power succession) is intended to stabilize the internal system. North Korea's instability leads to instability in the region," Kim Jong-nam said.

The eldest son also said he regularly gave his opinions to his father and maintained good relations with some of the leader's top aides, such as Kim Jong-il's 64-year-old sister, Kim Kyoung-hui, and her husband, Jang Song-thaek, who is vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission.

On rumors that Jong-un tried to assassinate him or that he was seeking asylum abroad, Kim Jong-nam said they were "groundless rumors" and that he had "never felt threatened."

Kim Jong-nam also characterized North Korea's deadly Nov. 23 shelling of a South Korean border island as an attempt to justify the regime's nuclear programs and military-first policy. The attack may also have served to highlight the North's claims that the targeted area was a disputed territory, he said.

The eldest son also expressed a "genuine wish" that his heir apparent brother would improve the living conditions of the North Korean people, adding that he was not trying to challenge or criticize him.

"My heart aches when I hear news" of the poverty in North Korea, he was quoted as saying.


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