Kim Jong Un’s Estranged Brother Murdered in Malaysia

  • Kim Jong Nam had lived outside North Korea for years
  • He was killed by women with needle at airport: report

Kim Jong-Un's Half-Brother Murdered at Malaysia Airport

The oldest half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was murdered in Malaysia on Monday, according to a South Korean government official.

Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of former leader Kim Jong Il, had lived outside the country for years. The official, who asked not to be identified due to government policy, said poison was involved in his death, but provided no other details.

Two unidentified women killed Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur’s airport with a poison needle before fleeing in a taxi, YTN television station reported, citing a government source.

Malaysia police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement a 46 year-old North Korean male sought assistance at the airport but died en route to hospital. His travel document identified him as Kim Chol, he said, adding an investigation is underway and a post mortem request made.

Kim Jong Nam fell out of favor with his father after he was caught trying to enter Japan using a fake Dominican Republic passport in 2001, according to Japanese reporter Yoji Gomi, who wrote a book about him. Kim Jong Nam had been critical of Kim Jong Un, reportedly saying in 2012 that he “won’t last long” because of his youth and inexperience. The two brothers have different mothers.

The most likely scenario was that Kim Jong Un was behind the murder, according to Kim Young-woo, a South Korean lawmaker who leads the National Assembly’s national-defense committee. He didn’t cite any specific evidence to back up that view.

‘Out of the Blue’

“You don’t remove someone who has been wandering around away from home for a long time -- without being up to anything important really -- out of the blue,” Kim Young-woo said. It indicates that Kim Jong Nam had followers and his brother “felt insecure about it," he said.

QuickTake North Korea’s Nukes

South Korea’s Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn will chair a National Security Council meeting Wednesday morning to discuss North Korean issues, Yonhap News reported, citing Hwang’s office. The country’s intelligence service will also brief lawmakers about the killing.

News of the murder comes two days after Kim Jong Un test-fired a ballistic missile as part of efforts to develop North Korea’s nuclear-weapons capability. The provocation drew a rebuke from the United Nations Security Council, with U.S. President Donald Trump vowing to deal with the threat “very strongly.”

Kim’s Purges

North Korea remains largely cut off from the world, with information tightly controlled by the government. Kim has carried out a series of executions since taking power in 2011, the most high profile of which was the 2013 killing of his uncle and one-time deputy Jang Song Thaek.

Kim Jong Nam was born to a woman who was forced by Kim Jong Il to leave her husband and live with the dictator, according to Cheong Seong-chang, a North Korea analyst at Sejong Institute near Seoul. For that reason, Kim Jong Nam was considered an illegitimate son and grew up in seclusion, Cheong said.

While Kim Jong Nam enrolled in an international school in Geneva in 1980, his grandmother brought him back to Pyongyang in his late teens because he started to frequent bars, Cheong said.

If Kim Jong Nam was killed by a North Korean spy, it indicates that Kim Jong Un felt a sense of paranoia about his future and wanted to remove any potential successors, according to Namkoong Young, who has been teaching inter-Korean politics at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies for more than 25 years.

“Jong Nam has been in exile for years away from North’s politics for a long time but he is still the eldest son of Kim Jong Il,” Namkoong said. “And if there was any move or plan by some elite there to have him replace Jong Un, he probably should be removed.”

Kim Jong Un had about 50 officials executed in 2014 on charges ranging from graft to watching South Korean soap operas. Two senior officials were executed with an anti-aircraft gun in August last year on Kim’s orders, South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported, citing people it did not identify.

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