Like the enigma of a hermit kingdom, the family of Kim Jong-nam is uncontactable and nowhere to be seen at their two homes in Macau.
The Chosun Ilbo, a Seoul-based daily, said “no one would talk” during its visit to his properties located in an eight-storey apartment and a high-rise condominium in Macau’s old quarter on Wednesday.
There were also no signs of Jong-nam’s family.
The report also revealed little nuggets of the man; he did not smoke but drank one to two bottles of soju (a liquor from Korea) or 10 shots of boilermakers (a beer cocktail) in one sitting.
Jong-nam had moved into the Macau condominium with his family in 2008 so that his two children could attend an international school which is just five minutes away.
However, he moved out in 2011 when its location became public knowledge among South Korean residents there after his son Han-sol brought home a South Korean girlfriend.
Han-sol, 23, said last year that he was heading to Macau from France, where he studied.
But South Korean expats in Macau said they had not seen him of late.
Jong-nam’s daughter Sol-hui, 18, who graduated from school last September, has not been spotted too.
“I tried to call Jong-nam’s wife after learning about his assassination on the news last night but her mobile phone was turned off. They probably had an action plan in case something bad happened to him,” said a family friend.
Jong-nam settled in Macau in 2002 when he entered on a visitor visa and later gained citizenship.
Someone claimed that Jong-nam regularly frequented several Korean restaurants there, besides going to the casinos.
Prior to his father Kim Jong-il’s death in December 2011, Jong-nam travelled widely throughout South-East Asia and Europe.
He had been labelled a “playboy heir-apparent” and had mistresses in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
When Jong-il suffered a massive stroke in August 2008, the son flew to France and brought back neurologists to Pyongyang.
Jong-nam became depressed and reclusive after his half-brother and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un executed their uncle Jang Song-taek in December 2013.
He started to limit his travels, reportedly because his allowance from Jang had been cut off.
Chosun Ilbo quoted a family friend of Jong-nam who claimed that he had a personality change after his uncle’s death.
“Kim Jong-nam had a bright personality but he grew depressed after Jang was executed and often said ‘life is so sad’ and expressed dismay at how his uncle was killed,” said the family friend.