More details are surfacing in the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who was killed earlier this week in Malaysia.
South Korea on Wednesday confirmed the victim was indeed the North Korean leader’s older half brother, who was once in line to become head of state, but fell out of favor with their father, Kim Jong Il, after he tried to enter Japan on a forged passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland in 2001.
The Malaysian police report issued on Tuesday night confirmed a 46-year-old North Korean man, who was traveling with a passport under the name of Kim Chol, died en route to a hospital after seeking medical help in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. His travel destination on Tuesday was Macau, where he had been living, said the Malaysian police.
On Tuesday unnamed U.S. government sources said the U.S. strongly believes that Kim Jong Nam was murdered by North Korean agents.
The South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) on Wednesday confirmed that Kim Jong Nam was poisoned by two suspected North Korean female agents, using toxic tipped needles, or sprayed with an unidentified liquid in his face, or with a chemically treated cloth. The unidentified assailants then reportedly fled in a taxi and are currently at large.
Malaysian police investigating the attack said the cause of Kim's death was not yet known and a post-mortem would soon be carried out. His body was taken on Wednesday morning to a second hospital, where an autopsy was being performed. North Korean embassy officials were also on scene at the hospital and were coordinating with local authorities, police sources said.
There is widespread speculation that Kim Jong Nam’s death was ordered by high ranking officials in Pyongyang, and very likely by Kim Jong Un himself.
“If it is proved that Kim Jong Nam's death was committed by the North Korean government, it will be a case that shows the brutality and inhumanity of the Kim Jong Un regime,” said South Korean acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.
Kim Jong Nam was reportedly considered a threat to his brother’s rule because of his outspoken criticism of the continued repressive and authoritarian practices within the country, because he was a proponent of reform policies that would loosen state controls.
South Korea’s spy agency said Wednesday that Kim Jong Un had issued a "standing order" for his half-brother's assassination, and that there had been a failed attempt in 2012.