North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his late father Kim Jong Il used Brazilian passports with fake names, date of births and birth places to apply for visas in the 1990s in an attempt to visit Western countries while flying under the radar, a report said on Tuesday.
The current and former despots used the passports to apply for visas to at least two countries, Reuters reported, citing five senior Western European security sources. It’s unclear which countries’ visas were being sought.
“They used these Brazilian passports, which clearly show the photographs of Kim Jong Un and Kim Jong Il, to attempt to obtain visas from foreign embassies,” a Western security source told Reuters. “This shows the desire for travel and points to the ruling family’s attempts to build a possible escape route.”
The passport allegedly belonging to Kim Jong Un has the name “Josef Pwag” printed on it with the date of birth Feb. 1, 1983. It’s unclear if the date listed is really his birthday because his date of birth has never been publically released.
He would have been between 12 and 14 years old when the passport was issued, according to Reuters.
The other passport, said to belong to Kim Jong Il, is listed under the name “Ijong Tchoi” with the birth date of April 4, 1940, a year off from the late despot’s real birthday.
Each picture on the passport bears striking resemblance to both members of North Korea’s ruling family. Reuters stated that facial recognition was used to confirm both fraudulent Brazilian passports were of Jong Un and Jong Il.
The passports, both valid for 10 years, have the “Embassy of Brazil in Prague” and an issue date of Feb. 26, 1996. The passports were real and initially given to the consulate as blanks. The birthplaces were listed as Sao Paulo, Brazil.
It’s unclear if the passports were ever used or if the visas were issued. Brazil's foreign ministry told Reuters it was investigating the incident.
North Korea’s ruling family have been rumored for years to use fake travel documents to leave the Hermit Kingdom.
Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of Kim Jong Il who was killed by the banned VX nerve agent in February 2017, was arrested in May 2001 at an airport in Tokyo for using a counterfeit passport, the BBC reported. He reportedly told officials he was planning to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
Kim Jong Un, who went to international school in Bern, Switzerland, also reportedly traveled to Japan around 1991 using fake Brazilian passports under the name Joseph Pak, the Telegraph reported in 2011. The reported pseudonym is similar to the one seen on the passport Reuters reported Tuesday.
Kim was with another boy, believed to be his brother Kim Jong Chul, and 10 other people who appeared to be North Korean officials. The visit lasted a week, according to South Korean media reports.