The half-brother of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-nam has been killed in an attack at Kuala Lumpur airport.
According to Malaysian police, Kim Jong-nam was waiting at the airport on Monday for a flight to Macau when a woman covered his face with a cloth that burnt his eyes. He was using a passport with a different name.
He spent most of his time outside North Korea, and it is widely believed that he fled North Korea after he was passed over for the leadership.
Malaysia’s Star newspaper reported that Kim Jong-nam was attacked at 09:00 (19:00 CT Sunday) on Monday while he was waiting at the Kuala Lumpur airport, for a 10:00 (20:00 CT Sunday) flight to Macau. It is still unclear how the attack took place, due to contradictory reports.
Fadzil Ahmat, a Malaysian police officer, told Star that Kim Jong-nam reported the incident to the receptionist, and said that he was grabbed from behind and liquid splashed on his face.
Bernama quoted the same official as saying that the women came from behind and covered the face with a cloth laced with liquid, Mr. Kim’s face suffered burns, and he died on his way to a nearby hospital in Putrajaya.
Fadzil Ahmat told Reuters that there were currently no suspects, but investigations were underway to get leads.
The news of the death was not reported until Tuesday. An autopsy has been conducted, but the findings have not been released.
Why the delay in identification?
South Korean media reported the death of Kim Jong-nam early on Tuesday, but Malaysian authorities just stated that an unnamed North Korean national died after falling ill at the airport.
A police statement was then released identifying the deceased as “Kim Chol,” born on June 10, 1970, whereas Kim Jong-nam was born on May 10, 1971. Mr. Kim was caught in 2001 when he tried to enter Japan with a false passport. He had told officials that he was going to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
Why was he flying to China?
After the death of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-nam was bypassed in favor of his youngest half-brother for succession. He had kept a low profile after that, staying in Macau, mainland China, and Singapore for most of his time. It is said that Mr. Kim enjoyed slot machines in Macau, a territory famous for gambling.
What led to his falling out of favor?
The Japan incident is thought to be one of the primary reasons that spoiled his chances of succeeding Kim Jong-il. In a 2012 book, Kim Jong-nam spoke against the dynastic control of his family in North Korea, and he also believed that his younger half-brother didn’t have the qualities a leader requires.
Can this be termed an assassination?
South Korea jailed a North Korean spy in 2012 who admitted trying to organize a hit-and-run accident targeting Mr. Kim. The North Korean state has a long history of sending spies and agents overseas to carry out attacks, kidnappings, and assassinations.