February 15, 2017 12:02
The aim of the suspected assassination of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia on Monday would have been to eliminate a focal point for dissidents and potential threat to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's rule, pundits believe.
The killing was a stern warning to anyone who dares to challenge Kim's rule. Nam Sung-wook at Korea University said, "Kim Jong-un now marks his fifth year in power and seems to have done some pruning to streamline his leadership structure."
Jong-nam may have lived in gilded exile overseas for years, but he was protected by China and occasionally touted as an alternative leader if the regime was overthrown.
"Kim Jong-un has carried out many purges since he rose to power and may have felt the need to block any attempts by his opponents to try and unseat him by rallying behind Kim Jong-nam,” Nam said. "His brother Jong-chol seems harmless, but he felt Jong-nam was a threat."
Jong-chol, who reportedly suffers from excessive amounts of the female hormone estrogen as a side effect of steroid abuse, is keeping away from politics.
Jun Ok-hyun, a former intelligence officer, said, "This type of incident would be impossible without the approval or direct orders of Kim Jong-un."
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