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North Korea leader should follow concert-going son: US official

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. State Department suggested Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il get “out more often” and open up his country after his son apparently attended an Eric Clapton concert overseas.

Kim Jong-Chol, second son of the leader of the isolated, hardline communist state, attended a concert in Singapore this week by the British guitarist, a South Korean intelligence official told AFP.

“Kim Jong-Il's son attended an Eric Clapton concert in Singapore? Actually, the Dear Leader himself would benefit from getting out more often,” U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on the microblogging website Twitter.

“Of course, there is nothing preventing Kim Jong-Il from opening up North Korea so his people could enjoy Clapton, and maybe get more to eat,” Crowley said in another tweet.

Jong-Chol, wearing black trousers and a T-shirt, was seen cheering and swaying among fans at Monday's performance in the Singapore Indoor Stadium, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said.

TV footage showed a man resembling Jong-Chol entering the stadium with an entourage of some 20 people including bodyguards and women carrying bouquets. He took pictures in front of the stage and chatted with a female companion.

Crowley alluded to a history of famine and food shortages in North Korea.

The World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) last year found that an estimated 5 million people in the secretive state face food shortages in 2011.

North Korea suffered a famine in the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands and has since relied on overseas aid to help feed its people.

But donations have dwindled amid international concern over its missile and nuclear programs.

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