North Korea leader's half-brother spotted in Jakarta

SEOUL (AFP) - The elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has surfaced in Indonesia, dismissing speculation that he might have been hiding following the execution of his uncle, a South Korean television reported Tuesday.

Kim Jong Nam was sighted at an Italian restaurant run by a Japanese businessman in Jakarta on May 4 with two women, cable news network YTN said.

YTN quoted one of Kim's friends as saying the 43-year-old had been living well, shuttling back and forth among Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and France, despite the shock execution of his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, last December.

Kim Jong Nam was reportedly close to Jang, once the North's unofficial No.2 and political mentor of current leader Kim Jong Un.

Jang's execution was the biggest political upheaval since the young ruler took power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011.

Kim Jong Nam was once considered heir apparent but fell out of favour with his father following a botched attempt in 2001 to secretly enter Japan and visit Disneyland.

He has since lived in virtual exile, mainly in the Chinese territory of Macau.

Kim Jong Nam, known as an advocate for reform, once told a Japanese newspaper that he opposed the idea of the North's dynastic power transfer.