Published July 18, 2009
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's teenage grandson was seen at a concert given by one of South Korea's biggest pop stars, singing along in the crowd, a news report said Saturday.
Reclusive North Korea has been cracking down on South Korean pop culture and other outside influences for years.
But Kim's 14-year-old grandson watched the concert in the Chinese territory of Macau on June 27 with five South Korean friends who attend middle schools in Hong Kong and Macau, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said, citing an unidentified South Korean living in Macau.
The grandson sang along to pop star Rain, whose smooth dance moves and sculpted body have earned him the nickname "Justin Timberlake of Asia," the report said.
Kim Jong Nam — the boy's father and the North Korean leader's eldest son — bought the tickets worth about $1,400 and allowed his son to invite his friends, the newspaper said.
North Korea's state-run media frequently warn that imperialists are trying to poison the country's culture and ideals. But South Korean pop culture still appears to be gaining popularity through smuggled TV dramas and movies, defectors say.
Kim Jong Il himself is known to be a movie buff who reportedly has a film library stocked with more than 20,000 movies, including all the James Bond films.
Kim Jong Nam had been the favorite to succeed his father but reportedly fell out of favor after being caught trying to enter Japan on a fake passport in 2001 to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
He has been living in recluse since May, around the time his younger brother Kim Jong Un reportedly was named as successor, the newspaper said.
It added that Kim Jong Nam left last week for Thailand, where he planned to stay for a while. The newspaper cited another unidentified source in Macau.