chapter  1
Politics
Pages 446

Kim Jong Il has not indicated a favourite [to succeed him] . . . His first wife, Sung Hae Rim, is the mother of the eldest son, Kim Jong Nam. His second wife, Ko Young Hee, had Kim Jong Chol and Kim Jong Un . . . [Kim Jong Il’s] eldest son, Kim Jong Nam, thirty-four, has not been home for years, wandering in self-imposed exile overseas and reportedly on the run from hit men hired by supporters of his step-brothers . . . Jong Nam was last sighted in public in September last year [2004], when he told Japanese reporters at a Beijing airport that he had travelled in several countries after being expelled from Japan . . . [It was] reported later . . . [that] Jong Nam had escaped an assassination attempt in Vienna last year . . . [Kim Jong Il’s] second son, Kim Jong Chol, is only twenty-four and was reportedly dismissed once by his father as too ‘girlish’ to be a leader. His youngest son, Kim Jong Un, twenty-two, remains a mystery; in fact no one in the outside world is known to have ever seen his photograph . . . A purge and indoctrination are already under way to prepare for a son’s ascension, said Cheong Seong Chang, an analyst at Sejong in South Korea. ‘They are nipping potential obstacles in the bud,’ he said, citing the banishing of Jang Song Taek, Kim Jong Il’s brother-in-law. Jang, once a drinking partner of Kim’s and the second most influential man in Kim’s secretive inner circle, has been missing since last year [2004], and many state, military and party officials close to him are losing their jobs or being demoted.