While North Koreans celebrate the birthday of their leader Kim Jong-Il, one of his sons has apparently been indulging his music tastes at an Eric Clapton concert in Singapore.
Kim-Jong Chol, the second son of the North Korean president, was apparently caught on camera by the Korean Broadcasting System entering the concert, which took place on Monday.
Other footage saw the 30-year-old – dressed in black T-shirt and trousers – cheering and swaying along with the audience at the show, which took place at Singapore’s Indoor Stadium.
It is the second time that Jong-Chul has reportedly been seen at an Eric Clapton concert.
He previously saw the British singer and guitarist perform in Germany in 2006, and is said to have invited Clapton to perform in the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
Jong-chul was an early favourite to succeed his father but has since lost out to his younger sibling.
As he continued his stay in Singapore, back home North Koreans celebrated the country’s biggest holiday to mark the 69th birthday of Kim Jong-il, the isolated state’s reclusive and ailing leader who is trying to smooth the path for a third generation of family rule.
Kim’s youngest son Jong-un, in his late 20s, has been identified to succeed him, and was in 2010 appointed to senior military and political posts, along with Kim’s sister and husband, who are widely seen as key caretakers for the hand-over.
Jong-un has been named vice chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission, which his father heads as state leader, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo daily quoted a source who is familiar with the North as saying. South Korean officials could not confirm it.
The move could give the junior Kim additional credentials to take over power in a society that values seniority and official titles but analysts say no public post carries as much weight as being the current leader’s son and hand-picked successor.
Kim Jong-il is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 and was away from public view for months. He was frail and gaunt when he reappeared months later, although last year he twice travelled to China and visited dozens of factories and military sites at home.
The North has becoming increasingly hostile to its southern neighbour over the past two years, and has conducted nuclear and missile tests, staged military attacks and revealed advances in its nuclear programme.
Analysts say Kim Jong-il uses these acts to boost his own, well as his son’s image as iron rulers.
Staged festivities are scheduled throughout the week, including exhibitions of Kimjongilia, a hybrid flower named after the leader, as well as ice-skating, acrobatics and musical shows.
The capital’s streets were festooned with lanterns, state news agency KCNA reported.
‘The venues of the events are pervaded with deep trust in Kim Jong-il who has led the Korean revolution only to victory, true to the will of President Kim Il-sung,’ KCNA reported, referring to his father and the state’s founder.
In the South, politicians released balloons with anti-Pyongyang messages across the border, while in the capital, Seoul, protesters burnt posters of Kim Jong-il and his son.
While birthday celebrations continue…North Korean citizen baffles authorities after crossing border into South Korea undetected
Officials in South Korea are baffled as to how a North Korean citizen walked across the heavily mined border into South Korea while the rest of the country was celebrating Kim Jong-Il’s birthday/
The unidentified man managed to walk across the 4-km (2.5-mile) wide minefield – known as the Demilitarised Zone – and past North Korean guards.
He was being interrogated by authorities after being picked up by South Korean guards late on Tuesday, an official said.
The Demilitarised Zone border that has divided the Korean peninsula since the end of the 1950-53 conflict has been rarely travelled, except through two corridors cleared for passage by officials and civilians after ties between the countries began warming in 2000.
Hundreds of North Koreans flee the impoverished country each year across its northern border with China and most make their way to the South, with more than 20,000 having found refuge in the wealthy capitalist neighbour.
Most cite economic hardship and political persecution as the main reasons for leaving home.
While defections are cause for deep embarrassment for the North Korean authorities, the country’s masses do not hear or read about such acts as the media is state controlled and used exclusively for propaganda.