Cluess­carceafter half-brother of NKo­re­aleader killed

Sun.Star Pampanga - - WORLD! -

KKim Jong Nam, 46, was tar­geted Mon­day in a shop­ping con­course at Kuala Lumpur In­ter­na­tional Air­port, said a se­nior Malaysian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the case in­volves sen­si­tive diplo­macy. He had not yet gone through se­cu­rity.

Kim, who died on the way to a hospi­tal, told med­i­cal work­ers be­fore he died that he had been at­tacked with a chem­i­cal spray, the of­fi­cial said.

South Korea's spy ser­vice said Wed­nes­day that North Korea had been try­ing for five years to kill Kim Jong Nam. But the National In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice did not def­i­nitely say that it was North Korea, just that it was pre­sumed to be a North Korean op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to law­mak­ers who briefed re­porters about the closed door meet­ing with the spy of­fi­cials.

The NIS cited Kim Jong Un's al­leged "para­noia" about his half­brother. Still, the NIS has a his­tory of botch­ing in­tel­li­gence on the North and has long sought to por­tray the North's lead­ers as men­tally un­sta­ble.

In Malaysia, po­lice were search­ing for clues in the CCTV footage from the air­port, said Se­lan­gor po­lice chief Ab­dul Samah Mat. The air­port is in Se­lan­gor near Kuala Lumpur.

Kim Jong Nam was es­tranged from his younger brother, the North Korean leader. Al­though he had been tipped by some out­siders as a pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor to his dic­ta­tor fa­ther, oth­ers thought that was un­likely be­cause he lived out­side the coun­try, in­clud­ing re­cently in Ma­cau, Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia.

He re­port­edly fell fur­ther out of fa­vor when he was caught try­ing to en­ter Ja­pan on a false pass­port in 2001, say­ing he wanted to visit Tokyo Dis­ney­land.

Mul­ti­ple South Korean me­dia re­ports, cit­ing uniden­ti­fied sources, said Kim Jong Nam was killed at the air­port by two women be­lieved to be North Korean agents. They fled in a taxi and were be­ing sought by Malaysian po­lice, the re­ports said.

A Malaysian po­lice state­ment con­firmed the death of a 46-year-old North Korean man whom it iden­ti­fied from his travel doc­u­ment as Kim Chol, born in Py­ongyang on June 10, 1970. "In­ves­ti­ga­tion is in progress and a post mortem ex­am­i­na­tion re­quest has been made to as­cer­tain the cause of death," the state­ment said.

Ken Gause, at the CNA think tank in Wash­ing­ton who has stud­ied North Korea's lead­er­ship for 30 years, said Kim Chol was a name that Kim Jong Nam has trav­eled un­der. He is be­lieved to have been born May 10, 1971, al­though birth­days are al­ways un­clear for se­nior North Kore­ans, Gause sai d.

Mark Tokola, vice pres­i­dent of the Korea Eco­nomic In­sti­tute in Wash­ing­ton and a for­mer deputy chief of mis­sion at the U.S. Em­bassy in Seoul, said it would be sur­pris­ing if Kim Jong Nam was not killed on the or­ders of his brother, given that North Korean agents have re­port­edly tried to as­sas­si­nate Kim Jong Nam in the past.

"It seems prob­a­ble that the mo­ti­va­tion for the mur­der was a con­tin­u­ing sense of para­noia on the part of Kim Jong Un," Tokola wrote in a com­men­tary Tues­day. Al­though there was scant ev­i­dence that Kim Jong Nam was plot­ting against the North Korean leader, he pro­vided an al­ter­na­tive for North Kore­ans who would want to de­pose his brother.

The re­ported killing came as North Korea cel­e­brated its lat­est mis­sile launch, which for­eign ex­perts were an­a­lyz­ing for ev­i­dence of ad­vance­ment in the coun­try's mis­sile ca­pa­bil­i­ties. For the next sev­eral days, North Korea will be mark­ing the birth­day of its late leader Kim Jong Il, the broth­ers' fa­ther, though they have dif­fer­ent moth­ers. The ma­jor hol­i­day this Thurs­day is called the "Day of the Shin­ing Star" and will be feted with fig­ure skat­ing and syn­chro­nized swim­ming ex­hi­bi­tions, fire­works and mass ral­lies.

Since tak­ing power in late 2011, Kim Jong Un has ex­e­cuted or purged a slew of high-level gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in what the South Korean gov­ern­ment has de­scribed as a "reign of ter­ror." The most spec­tac­u­lar was the 2013 ex­e­cu­tion by anti-air­craft fire of his un­cle, Jang Song Thaek, once con­sid­ered the coun­try's sec­ond-most-pow­er­ful man, for what the North al­leged was trea­son.

Gause said Kim Jong Nam had been forth­right that he did not have po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions, al­though he was pub­licly crit­i­cal of the North Korean regime and his brother's le­git­i­macy in the past.

Kim Jong Nam had been less out­spo­ken since 2011, when North Korean as­sas­sins re­port­edly tried to shoot him in Ma­cau, Gause said, though the de­tails of the at­tempted killing are murky. South Korea also re­port­edly jailed a North Korean spy in 2012 who ad­mit­ted to try­ing to or­ga­nize a hit-and-run ac­ci­dent tar­get­ing Kim Jong Nam in China in 2010.

De­spite the at­tempts on his life, Kim Jong Nam had re­port­edly trav­eled to North Korea since then, so it was as­sumed he was no longer un­der threat. Kim Jong Nam may have be­come more vul­ner­a­ble as his de­fender in the North Korean hi­er­ar­chy, Kim Ky­ong Hui — Kim Jong Un's aunt and the wife of his ex­e­cuted un­cle, Jang Song Thaek — ap­pears to have fallen from fa­vor or died. She has not been seen in public for more than three years, Gause sai d.

Kim Jong Il had at least three sons with two women, as well as a daugh­ter by a third. Kim Jong Nam was the el­dest, fol­lowed by Kim Jong Chul, who is a few years older than Kim Jong Un and is known as a play­boy who re­port­edly at­tended Eric Clap­ton con­certs in Lon­don in 2015. It's un­clear what posi­ton he has in the North Korean gov­ern­ment. A younger sis­ter, Kim Yo Jong, was named a mem­ber of the Work­ers' Party of Korea's Cen­tral Com­mit­tee dur­ing a North Korean party congress last May. She has a po­si­tion in a pro­pa­ganda and ag­i­ta­tion de­part­ment and is known as Kim Jong Un's gate­keeper, Gause sai d.

While the most likely ex­pla­na­tion for the killing was that Kim Jong Un was re­mov­ing a po­ten­tial chal­lenger to North Korean lead­er­ship within his own fam­ily, he could also be send­ing a warn­ing to North Korean of­fi­cials to demon­strate the reach of the regime. It fol­lows the de­fec­tion last year of a se­nior diplo­mat from the North Korean Em­bassy in Lon­don who has spo­ken of his de­spair at Kim's purges.

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Kim half-brod as­sas­si­nated. TV screens show pic­tures of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at an elec­tronic store in Seoul, South Korea, Wed­nes­day, Feb. 15, 2017. Kim was as­sas­si­nated at an air­port in Kuala Lumpur, telling med­i­cal work­ers be­fore he died that he had been at­tacked with a chem­i­cal spray a Malaysian of­fi­cial said Tues­day.

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