North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother Kim Jong Nam was assassinated at a Malaysian airport in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, after being attacked with a chemical-like liquid substance.
Details about the exact nature of the attack are conflicting, with one report alleging Jong Nam was sprayed with the chemical and another by a South Korean cable TV network claiming he was stuck with “poisoned needles”.
According to a senior Malaysian official who spoke on the condition of anonymity Tuesday, Jong Nam died on the way to the hospital after first seeking medical attention at the airport.
Media sources in South Korea reported the attack on Jong Nam was carried out by a pair of women who escaped local law enforcement after fleeing the scene in a taxi cab. One outlet said “multiple government sources,” were reporting the perpetrators worked for Pyongyang.
Reuters reported at approximately 12:00 p.m. EST Tuesday that a U.S. government source said American officials also believe the attackers to be North Korean agents.
Jong Nam, who lived in exile and often traveled under false pretenses, had been publicly critical of his younger half-brother since Jong Un came to power in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, following their father’s death in December 2011.
Prior to Jong Un’s rise to power, Jong Nam was targeted for assassination in China in 2010 after a North Korean spy was detained by South Korean authorities and allegedly admitted to the plot.
In 2012, however, tensions escalated after Jong Nam wrote to a Japanese journalist that Jong Un didn’t have “any sense of duty or seriousness”, and intimated that his brother’s lack of character would lead to the destruction of the North Korean state.
Jong Nam also told the same reporter that year, “Anyone with normal thinking would find it difficult to tolerate three generations of hereditary succession.”
Kim Jong Un’s oldest brother’s death comes less than two days after another North Korean ballistic missile test, conducted on Sunday. According to a U.S. official, the Pukguksong-2 rocket was launched over 300 miles into the Sea of Japan, a test North Korea declared successful.
Both American and Japanese officials condemned the launch, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who said such a provocation was “absolutely intolerable.”
[AP] [International Business Times] [Reuters] [AFP via Yahoo News] [CNN] [Photo courtesy AFP/Getty Images via CNN]