February 15, 2017 09:22
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother died in mysterious circumstances at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Monday morning.
Kim Jong-nam died on the way to hospital after he told airport officials he had been attacked by unknown assailants.
Intelligence officers here briefed the media that Kim, who lived in gilded exile in Macau after falling out of favor with his father Kim Jong-il, was killed with a poison needle or spray by two female North Korean agents.
But neither the government here nor Malaysian police have confirmed the tale.
Kim had publicly criticized his younger half-brother's ascension to the North Korean thrown and was apparently a focal figure for defectors hoping to overthrow the regime.
Reuters quoted a Malaysian police official as saying, "The deceased... felt like someone grabbed or held his face from behind. He felt dizzy, so he asked for help" at the airport's budget terminal. He was traveling under a false passport in the name of Kim Chol.
An autopsy is under way to determine the cause of death.
People's Party leader Park Jie-won claimed the U.S. checked with the Malaysian government and two women captured on surveillance cameras appear to be Korean.
South Korean officials are working on the assumption that Kim Jong-un had his brother assassinated to rid himself of a potential rival, but the Foreign Ministry officially declined to confirm this.
In 2013, Kim ordered the public execution of his uncle Jang Song-taek, who had become powerful by arrogating most of the trade with China to himself and funded Kim Jong-nam's exile.
Kim Jong-nam was born in 1971, the son of Kim Jong-il and the movie actress Song Hye-rim. He was the oldest son and once tipped as the successor to the North Korean throne. But father and son grew apart when Kim senior married Koh Young-hee, who gave birth to Kim Jong-un.
He later fell from grace when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport and has lived in exile ever since, drifting from mainland China to Macau and Hong Kong, where he lived a playboy lifestyle. More recently, he has often been spotted in Singapore and Malaysia.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com