Kim Jong Un and his father Kim Jong Il – who died in 2011 – used fraudulently obtained Brazilian passports to apply for visas to visit countries in the West in the 1990s, according to five senior European security sources.
The current North Korean leader was issued a passport under the name “Josef Pwag” and his father under the name “Ijong Tchoi”. The passports were used to apply for visas in at least two countries.
Although the ruling family is known to have used travel documents obtained under false pretences, the photocopies of the Brazilian passports have not been published before.
One senior Western security source, speaking anonymously, said: “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.
“This shows the desire for travel and points to the ruling family’s attempts to build a possible escape route.”
The North Korean embassy in Brazil declined news agency requests for comment and the Brazilian foreign ministry said it was investigating.
An anonymous source in Brazil confirmed the authenticity of the documents.
The four other senior European security sources confirmed the two passports were used to apply for visas in at least two countries. It is unclear if any visas were in fact issued.
The officials said the passports may have been used to travel to Brazil, Japan and Hong Kong.
In 2011, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported Kim Jong Un had visited Tokyo in 1991 as a child using a Brazilian passport – before the issue date on the two passports found.
The 10-year travel documents carry a stamp which reads: “Embassy of Brazil in Prague.”
They have an issue date of 26 February 1996.
The security officials said facial recognition technology confirmed the photographs were of Kim Jong Un and his father.
The North Korean leader’s date of birth is widely disputed but on the passport with his photograph, the date of birth is 1 February 1983. He would have been between 12 and 14-years-old when the documents were issued.
Kim Jong Un is known to have attended an international school in Switzerland where he pretended to be the son of an embassy chauffeur.
The passport with his father’s photograph has the date of birth 4 April 1940. Kim Jong Il was actually born in 1941.
Their birthplace is Sao Paulo, according to the documents.
The security officials declined to reveal how they got hold of the passport copies – the original passports have not been obtained.