A Chinese news magazine featuring a front-page story on Kim Jong-un is sold at a news stand in Beijing December 27, 2011. Japan urged China this week to shoulder a big role in ensuring North Korea avoids volatility after the death of its leader, Kim Jong-il, and with the succession of Kim's youngest son, Kim Jong-un. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo
PYONGYANG, North Korea, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- China is giving protection to the eldest son of North Korea's departed leader Kim Jong Il, a source told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.
Kim Jong Nam reached China recently as North Korean authorities prepared for Wednesday's state funeral of his father, who died Dec. 17, the report said.
Kim Jong Nam arrived in Beijing from the Macau and was "been placed under the Chinese protection," the source, described as being familiar with the son's activities, told Yonhap. It was not clear if he would attend his father's funeral in Pyongyang.
Kim Jong Il's oldest son has lived outside North Korea since 2001 after falling out of favor with his father. He has not favored his stepbrother Kim Jong Un, the youngest son of the late leader, succeeding his father.
"Even Chairman Mao Zedong of China did not enforce hereditary succession," the older brother was quoted as telling the Tokyo Shimbun in January. "(Hereditary succession) does not fit with socialism, and my father was against it as well."
Separately, Yonhap quoted a South Korean Embassy official in Warsaw saying that Kim Pyong Il, North Korea's ambassador to Poland and a half brother of Kim Jong Il, appeared to be still in the country.
"We haven't yet confirmed whether Kim Pyong Il has left Poland or not," the official said. "There's no evidence that he has left the country."
The official said if he hasn't yet left Warsaw, he may not make it to the funeral.
Kim Pyong Il was born to the second wife of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's founder, and had once been seen as a rival to Kim Jong Il. The half-brother was sent away on diplomatic assignments as Kim Jong Il succeeded his father in 1994.