Brother of North Korean leader assassinated in Malaysia

He was reported by South Korea's TV Chosun to have collapsed at the Kuala Lumpur airport about 9 a.m. Monday after being attacked by two women armed with poisoned needles who later fled in a taxi.

"We do not have any other details of this Korean man".

Acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn received a briefing from relevant security officials about the assassination, a government official said. Kim's brother was believed close to his once-powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek, who was branded a "traitor" and executed in December 2013. While Kim Jong Un leads the country, he was the younger brother.

Born in 1971, he was the eldest son of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

Since the incident, he had been leading the life of an exile and is believed to have resided for a time in China, Southeast Asia and Europe, South Korean network KBS reported.

Kim Jong Nam, the son of Kim Jong Il's first consort, was known to have lived mostly outside of North Korea, and to have spoken out against passing down the government leadership in the family line.

In 2001, Kim Jong-nam was caught with his wife and son trying to enter Japan on fake Dominican Republic passports.

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It is widely speculated that Kim Jong Un felt threatened by his older brother, who had criticized the regime from afar.

He said Seoul should "urge the Malaysian government to promptly identify the truth of the case and present it to the worldwide community". When questioned, he told authorities he was planning to visit Tokyo Disneyland. Emails revealed in a 2012 book about Kim that he opposed North Korea's hereditary transfers of power and had doubts about his younger half-brother's ability to govern.

Could the dead man be Kim Jong-chol rather than Kim Jong-nam? According to reports, Kim Jong-nam was killed on Monday morning in Kaula Laumpur. He was the nephew of Song Hye-rim, who is Kim Jong-nam's mother. "Looking at a family tree one can see how complex the breakdown actually is, with little to actually determine the state of Kim Jong Un and his relationship with his siblings".

"I have conveyed the matter to the North Korean Embassy", he said, adding that an autopsy was planned to seek the cause of death. He told Rehn that he had never met his grandfather, Kim Jong Il.

"It seems probable that the motivation for the murder was a continuing sense of paranoia on the part of Kim Jong Un, which may be a well-placed paranoia", Tokola wrote in a commentary today. "We should abide by such reasons if there are any", he told TV Asahi.

As the eldest son, why did Kim not become leader?

Interestingly, his half-brother, the current North Korea leader, was also educated in Switzerland but developed no such opinions.

  • Megan Austin