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Report: Kim Jong Il's eldest son falls on hard times

Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, waves after an interview with South Korean media in the Chinese territory of Macau in June 2010.

Kim Jong Nam, the wayward eldest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, has been kicked out of his luxury lodgings in the gambling mecca of Macau after failing to pay $15,000 in arrears, according to a report Friday by the Russian news website Arguments and Facts.

Jong Nam, 41, was bypassed by his father as the next leader of North Korea. Kim Jung Un, a half-brother to Jong Nam who is thought to be about 28, was instead anointed to head the isolated Communist nation upon his father’s death in December.

Jong Nam has been living in comfortable virtual exile for about a decade -- gaining a reputation for drinking and gambling while staying mainly in the Chinese territory of Macau.

Arguments and Facts, a mass circulation news weekly and website, reported that he was renting at least one place at Macau’s five-star Grand Lapa Hotel, which is run by the Mandarin Oriental Group, but quoted a source at the hotel as saying that he was expelled from the 17th floor room because his credit card had been canceled.

Jong-Nam’s luxury apartment was paid for by Beijing, according to an unnamed Macau administration official cited by the Russian site, while his spending money came mainly from Pyongyang.

The report speculated that Pyongyang had cut Kim’s cash, and that Beijing followed suit, after he said unflattering things about the secretive regime.

In January, Tokyo Shimbun quoted Kim Jong Nam expressing his opposition to hereditary leadership in North Korea and openly doubting that the regime could survive. The reporter, Yoji Gomi, interviewed Jong Nam extensively for a recently published book, "My father Kim Jong Il and Me."

North Korea's first family

The Macau official also said that the local administration was nervous about Kim Jong Nam’s presence in Macau, fearing that he might become a target of the Pyongyang regime, according to the report.

"Who knows what might happen to him," the official told Arguments and Facts. "What if there is an assassination attempt against him, a blast or a contract killing? We do not need problems."

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