TV reportedly captures Kim in luxury hotel in China

After days of frenzied speculation, a television station claimed on Friday to have captured proof of reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il living it up at a luxury hotel in China.

The grainy footage broadcast by Japan’s Nippon Television station in Tokyo showed a bespectacled man with Kim’s trademark bouffant hairstyle surrounded by men in black as he got out of a limousine.

The network identified the man as Kim and said the footage was shot by a long-range camera on Friday morning at the five-star White Swan hotel.

The man’s outfit was unclear in the footage, but the reporter said he was wearing a brown worker’s outfit reminiscent of Kim’s preferred attire.

Staff at the 843-room White Swan, a favourite for visiting dignitaries over the years including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, said on Friday the hotel was fully-booked but refused to give a reason.

Dozens of police also stood guard around the hotel, while airport-style metal detectors had been placed at the entrance in an unusually strong display of security.

”I can’t answer your questions,” a security officer said when asked about the stepped-up security.

Kim, who is believed to have crossed the North Korean border into China on a special train on Tuesday, reportedly visited Guangzhou’s multibillion-dollar University Town education hub on Friday.

Journalists reported seeing a motorcade of limousines heading to the area, although security staff there again refused to disclose any details.

China, one of North Korea’s few allies, has instituted a policy during Kim’s three previous visits of confirming nothing until he has left the country and have continued to frustrate journalists during Kim’s current tour.

”At present I have no information to give to you on this,” foreign ministry spokesperson Kong Quan told reporters at a regular briefing on Thursday.

A Northeast Asia expert from the University of New York, Stephen Noerper, said if Kim was in China, travelling to the economically strong south of the country made sense.

”In Guangzhou, he would take a look at an area of China that appears to be making the most progress in terms of the economy,” Noerper said by telephone. – AFP



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