Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, died on February 13 under mysterious circumstances after an apparent poison attack at a Malaysian airport.
Kim, who fell ill at Kuala-Limpur international airport, had complained that he was being sprayed by some sort of chemical substance and later died on his way to hospital. His body is undergoing an autopsy.
Meanwhile, Malaysian police has detained a woman holding Vietnam travel papers and are looking for a “few” other foreign suspects in connection with Jong-nam’s assasination.
Kim was attacked while preparing to board a flight home to Macau. His death was only made public on Tuesday.
However, Malaysia is yet to formally confirm that the dead man is Kim Jong-nam, as he was travelling under a different name, Kim Chol.
Interestingly, it was not the first time Mr Kim had travelled under an assumed identity: he was caught trying to enter Japan using a false passport in 2001. He told officials he had been planning to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
The mystery behind the attack is itself complicated.
While on his way to hospital, Kim told medical workers that he’d been sprayed with a chemical, which brings to mind past attacks with poison-tipped pens linked to North Korean assassins.
South Korea’s spy agency says two women believed to be North Korean agents attacked Kim. They then reportedly fled. Japanese media quoted the government in Tokyo as saying those women may now be dead, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Without elaborating, South Korea’s spy service told lawmakers Wednesday that the North had been trying to kill Kim Jong Nam for five years. Spy officials offered a single, shaky motive for the death: Kim Jong Un’s “paranoia” over his estranged half brother, Associated Press reports.
According to the spy agency, Kim Jong-nam had been living with his second wife in the Chinese territory of Macau, under Beijing’s protection, the lawmakers said. One of them said Kim Jong-nam also had a wife and son in Beijing.
Even the US government sources believe that the insecure North Korean dictator could be behind the attack.
Kim Jong-nam is the elder son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011. His mother was an actress named Song Hye Rim, and Kim Jong-nam said his father kept the relationship a secret.