North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's (search) eldest son escaped an assassination attempt in China last year, according to a news report Monday.

Chinese authorities may have been aware of the attempt to kill Kim Jong Nam (search), South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing an unnamed South Korean intelligence official. The report gave no other details.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service declined to immediately comment on the report.

Austrian officials denied a report about an alleged assassination attempt in November against Kim Jong Nam while he was visiting there.

Kim Jong Nam was once believed to be favored to replace Kim Jong Il in the country's hereditary succession of power. However, he is believed to have lost his chance after he embarrassed his father in 2001 by being detained while trying to enter Japan on a false passport to visit Tokyo's Disneyland. He was later released and had been reportedly staying in China.