The man claiming to be North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s eldest son, who was deported to China on Friday after trying to illegally enter Japan, was a man of means who traveled in style.
An unidentified source had reportedly tipped off immigration authorities that Kim Jong Nam, believed to be heir-apparent to his father, may be traveling to Japan on a fake passport.
Immigration officers were on alert when a Japan Airlines flight carrying the “Kim Jong Nam” party arrived at Narita on Tuesday from Singapore. That was 3:31 p.m.
The aircraft arrived at Narita’s No. 2 terminal 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Among the passengers who disembarked was a party of four — one man, two women and a 4-year-old boy.
The man wore glasses, a white T-shirt topped by a tea-color vest and dark trousers. He had a Rolex on his wrist and rings on his fingers. His two women companions carried Louis Vuitton bags and wore gold bracelets.
As the man presented his passport at the immigration counter, a buzzer sounded and half a dozen immigration officers surrounded him. He was ordered to follow the officers to an immigration “interrogation room” on the second floor of the terminal.
“What happened? Why?” the man, visibly bewildered, asked in Japanese, without offering any resistance.
The man carried a Dominican Republic passport bearing the name Pang Xiong. Officials told him the passport was a fake.
“I’m Kim Jong Il’s son,” he replied matter-of-factly, adding that he bought the passport in the Dominican Republic for $2,000.
The passport listed “Korea” as the man’s birthplace and gave his date of birth as May 10, 1971, the same as Kim Jong Nam’s.
In view of what officials described as a delicate “suspect,” the interrogation lasted seven hours, well into the night.
If the man really was Kim Jong Il’s son, the obvious question was — did he want to defect? But asked why he came to Japan, the man said: “I was thinking of taking the family to Tokyo Disneyland.”
As the questioning dragged on, the man, now speaking English, said he was hungry. He pulled a 10,000 yen bill from his bulging wallet, filled with dollar bills and 10,000 yen notes. One witness said the wallet was 3-cm thick.
Someone was sent to buy food — salmon and beef lunch boxes — and the man sought to offer his change as a tip.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.