Korean leader assassinated in Malaysia

Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, was killed in Malaysia Monday morning after reportedly being attacked by two women believed to be North Korean agents.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement that a North Korean man identified as Kim Chol who sought initial medical assistance at the KLIA2 airport customer service counter, had died en route to hospital on Monday.

He also confirmed that the North Korean who died at the airport was Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. No other details were immediately available.

He did, however, visit North Korea at least once after his younger half-brother took charge - for their father's funeral in 2011.

Jong-Nam´s half-brother Jong-Un took over as North Korean leader when their father died in December 2011. The Reuters news agency reported that the women were believed to be North Korean operatives.

His cousin, Lee Han-young, defected to South Korea in 1982 but was shot and killed by North Korean agents in Seoul 15 years later, according to South Korea.

Jong-nam, who studied in Russian Federation and Switzerland, was a computer enthusiast and fluent Japanese speaker. He told immigration authorities at the time he had wanted to go to Tokyo Disneyland. Much of the news reported about North Korea-while not quite "fake news"-ends up being wrong".

Both before and after the announcement, the usually reclusive Kim Jong Nam said in interviews with Japanese media that he was opposed to hereditary succession, something that not even Mao Zedong had done in China.

He was widely expected to be the successor to his father Kim Jong-il, but was reportedly passed over for the position due to suggesting that he would implement reforms to the secretive state.

Jong-nam, the elder sibling, an initially the heir-apparent, was believed to be close to his uncle Jang Song Thaek, who was North Korea's most powerful man before he was executed on Jong-un's orders in 2013. He also had voiced disapproval of his family's control of the country.

Kim had been planning to travel to Macau on Monday when he fell ill at the low-priced terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2), reports said.

Fadzil said an ambulance picked up Jong-Nam from the airport. He thinks he (Kim Jong Un) has a lack of experience, he's too young, and he didn't have enough time to be groomed. In any case, Kim Jong Un has been known to be ruthless about potential rivals, even within his own family.

"Personally, I am against third-generation succession", he had told Japan's Asahi TV in 2010. Previous reports of executions and purges involving people deemed to be enemies of the North Korean regime - including those emanating from South Korean intelligence - have proved unreliable.

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

  • Joey Payne