North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his late father Kim Jong-il used fraudulently obtained Brazilian passports to apply for visas to visit Western countries in the 1990s, five senior Western European security sources have revealed.
While North Korea's ruling family is known to have used travel documents obtained under false pretences, there are few specific examples.
The photocopies of the Brazilian passports seen by the Reuters news agency have not been published before.
"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," one senior Western security source said on condition of anonymity.
"This shows the desire for travel and points to the ruling family's attempts to build a possible escape route," the security source said.
The North Korean embassy in Brazil declined to comment.
Brazil's foreign ministry said it was investigating.
A Brazilian source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the two passports in question were legitimate documents when sent out as blanks for consulates to issue.
Four other senior Western European security sources confirmed that the two Brazilian passports with photos of the Kims in the names of Josef Pwag and Ijong Tchoi were used to apply for visas in at least two Western countries.
It was unclear whether any visas were issued.
The passports may also have been used to travel to Brazil, Japan and Hong Kong, the security sources said.