Man killed in Malaysia identified as Kim Jong Un's half-brother

Miranda GreerFeb 15, 2017

On Tuesday, reports emerged in South Korean media that Kim Jong-nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's older half-brother, had been assassinated by two unknown women in Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Malaysian police officials were quoted in news reports as saying that the 45-year-old Kim was sprayed with a chemical spray at a Kuala Lumpur airport and died while being taken to a hospital.

Jong-Nam was considered the heir apparent to the late Kim Jong-il, but has been in exile since 2003 following a falling out with Jong-il after his botched attempt to enter Japan using a forged passport.

Kim Jong Nam was believed to be close to his uncle, Joang Song Thaek.

Jong Un, his younger brother from another mother, was named the new leader after their father died in late 2011. Officials never caught the assailants but believe they were North Korean agents.

In 2001, Kim Jong-nam's name was all over the global news because he was caught trying to enter Japan with a fake Dominican passport.

"I think we can speculate that Kim Jong-nam was the only other living pretender to the throne".

However, a statement issued by Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said the man's passport bore the name Kim Chol, aged 46, with passport number 836410070, from Pyongyang.

He told Japanese investigative authorities at the time that he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

North Korea is known to target critics, mostly inside the secretive state.

A third sibling, Kim Jong Chul, was rumored to have been ruled out as his father's successor for being too "effeminate", Scott Snyder of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote in 2012. He is pictured here in 2010 Who was Kim Jong-nam? He was born from his father's nonmarital relationship with Sung Hae-rim, a South Korean-born actress who died in Moscow.

"I think he represented an alternative path which North Korea might have taken some years ago where some aspects of the Kim family system could have been retained alongside reforms toward a more collective leadership and an actual opening up to the outside world", said Adam Cathcart, a North Korea expert at Leeds University in the United Kingdom.

Malaysian police reportedly suspect Jong Nam was targeted by North Korea.

Why would Kim Jong-Un want to assassinate his half-brother?

Jong-Nam's son Kim Han-Sol studied at university in Paris.

In his five years of leadership, Kim Jong Un has resisted calls to reform his economy and has methodically pursued the development of weapons of mass destruction.

In October 2012 South Korean prosecutors said a North Korean detained as a spy had admitted involvement in a plot to stage a hit-and-run auto accident in China in 2010 targeting him.

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