Assassins 'took FIVE SECONDS to poison Kim Jong-nam'

Kim Jong-nan, pictured, is believed to have been killed in an attack that lasted just 'five seconds' at an airport in Malaysia
  • Attack on Kim Jong-nam by 'North Korean hit squad' lasted just 'five seconds' 
  • 'Assassins' had been watching him in terminal and struck when he was in queue
  • One distracted him while second came from behind and locked him in a hold
  • A 'cloth drenched in a chemical' was then 'clamped over Jong-nam's face' 
  • Victim, the half-brother of Kim Jong-un, had criticised the North Korean regime
  • Two women and one man have since been arrested by Malaysian police

The brother of Kim Jong-un was killed in just five seconds by a 'hit squad' thought to have been sent by the North Korean leader, it is believed.

Investigators in Malaysia are still piecing together details of the case around the death of Kim Jong-nam, including the widespread assumption that Kim Jong-un dispatched assassins to kill him.

Kim Jong-nam was waiting to use a check-in machine when the quick fire attack happened.

According to the New Straits Times, the assassins had been watching Jong-nam in the queue before striking.

Within five seconds, one of the attackers distracted him while the other came from behind and 'locked him in a chokehold', pulled a cloth drenched in some chemical from a blue handbag, reached around his head and clamped it onto his face. 

Sources inside neighbouring South Korea have claimed the death must have been a 'direct order from Jong-un'. 

 It is believed one of the attackers distracted him in the check-in queue while another 'came from behind, locked in a chokehold and administered poison'. Pictured is one of the suspects on CCTV, wearing a white top branded with LOL  

It is believed one of the attackers distracted him in the check-in queue while another 'came from behind, locked in a chokehold and administered poison'. Pictured is one of the suspects on CCTV, wearing a white top branded with LOL  

 A photo has emerged showing the first arrested suspect (pictured wearing a yellow top) being led into a police car

A photo has emerged showing the first arrested suspect (pictured wearing a yellow top) being led into a police car

Federal Police Special Branch director Datuk Seri Mohamad Fuzi Harun told the New Straits Times that his men were working on intelligence to narrow down all leads. 

He said: 'We have reason to believe that this might be the work of foreign agents. 

'There are definitely other individuals involved, apart from the two assailants,' he said. 

Meanwhile Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute think tank in Seongnam, South Korea, said it was 'unthinkable' the North Korean leader was not involved. 

South Korea has pointed the finger of blame at the North, citing a 'standing order' from Jong-Un to kill his sibling and a failed assassination bid in 2012 after he criticised the regime.

Kim Jong-nam's body  will not be released until his family have provided DNA samples, Malaysia said Friday, despite a request from Pyongyang.

Forensic specialists were Friday carrying out tests on samples from the dead man's body to try to determine the toxin that was apparently sprayed in his face as he readied to board a plane earlier this week.

North Korean diplomats have objected to the post-mortem examination, Malaysian officials say, but Kuala Lumpur has stood firm, and said Friday it would not release the body until procedures were complete.

 It comes as a second woman named as Siti Aishah (pictured in the passport profile image), 25, from Indonesia and her Malaysian boyfriend were arrested over the death

It comes as a second woman named as Siti Aishah (pictured in the passport profile image), 25, from Indonesia and her Malaysian boyfriend were arrested over the death

 
The dark-haired, demure young woman in the short blue skirt and pink tights attracted little attention in Kuala Lumpur at firstJong-nam, who openly criticised the North Korean regime as 'a joke to the outside world', has sought to defect since 2012 

The 'LOL assasin' (left)  who allegedly murdered Kim Jong-nan, right, by wiping poison on his face may have been 'duped into killing him' by 'friends who told her it was a harmless prank'

 Kim Jong-Nam is believed to have been targeted as he prepared to board a plane in Kuala Lumpur

Kim Jong-Nam is believed to have been targeted as he prepared to board a plane in Kuala Lumpur

'So far no family member or next of kin has come to identify or claim the body. We need a DNA sample of a family member to match the profile of the dead person,' Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah Mat told AFP.

'North Korea has submitted a request to claim the body, but before we release the body we have to identify who the body belongs to,' he added.

DNA from a child, sibling - or even half-sibling - would be enough to provide a 'kinship match' and confirm the identity, a Malaysian forensic investigator told AFP.

Laboratory technicians working on blood and tissue samples from the autopsy would conduct tests 'as soon as possible' to determine the cause of death, Dr Cornelia Charito Siricord of the science ministry's chemistry department told national news agency Bernama. 

It comes as the woman accused of killing Kim Jong-nam was pictured in handcuffs as she was arrested by Malaysian Police yesterday.

The 'LOL assassin', who has been named as Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, was led out of a building and into a police car by officers in Kuala Lumpur on suspicion of murdering North Korean Kim Jong-nam. 

It emerged that the suspect may have been tricked into the murder of Kim Jong-un's brother by 'friends' who told her to 'wipe poison on him as a prank'.

It has also been claimed that a man dressed as a woman helped assist the killing by holding Kim from behind. 

 How the chillingly audacious murder of North Korean tyrant's brother in a major airport may have involved a poisonous handkerchief and fountain pen

How the chillingly audacious murder of North Korean tyrant's brother in a major airport may have involved a poisonous handkerchief and fountain pen

Doan is believed to have told police she was 'abandoned' by a group she was on 'holiday' in Kuala Lumpur with after allegedly applying a toxin to his face.

She was named as the woman captured on CCTV at Kuala Lumpur Airport wearing a white t-shirt branded with LOL and a blue skirt.

Police sources said Doan - which may be a false name - had told officers that she had been convinced by another woman and four men to play a prank on Kim and it was never her intention to kill or even hurt him and she thought it was 'a harmless joke'.

A second woman named as Siti Aishah, 25, from Indonesia and her Malaysian boyfriend Muhammad Farid Bin Jalaluddin, 26, were also arrested over the death yesterday.  

Indonesia's foreign ministry said the second woman is an Indonesian citizen and has requested consular access to her.

Officers were expected to release more details of Aishah's detention later.

The New Straits Times said today that the attack on Kim Jong-nam had been captured on one of a number of CCTV cameras and the vision had revealed the movements of the two women said to be involved.

The paper said that the assailants had moved separately as Kim was preparing to check in for his flight to Macau at the self-service check in booths.

DID 'CARELESS' FACEBOOK USE LEAD TO KIM JONG-NAM'S DEATH?

Kim Jong-Nam's 'careless' use of Facebook and emails may have led to his assassination, it has been reported.

The 46-year-old half-brother of Kim Jong-un, poisoned to death by two female operatives in Kuala Lumpur, posted numerous pictures of himself online along with comments.

His Facebook page was under the name 'Kim Chol', the same name used on the passport he had in his possession when he died on Monday.

 Kim Jong-Nam’s 'careless' use of Facebook and emails may have led to his assassination, it has been reported. He is shown in one of his Facebook photos

Kim Jong-Nam's 'careless' use of Facebook and emails may have led to his assassination, it has been reported. He is shown in one of his Facebook photos

 The 46-year-old half-brother of Kim Jong-un, poisoned to death by two female operatives in Kuala Lumpur, posted numerous pictures of himself online along with comments

The 46-year-old half-brother of Kim Jong-un, poisoned to death by two female operatives in Kuala Lumpur, posted numerous pictures of himself online along with comments

 Jong-nam's Facebook profile shows a squirrel along with a French flag filter - possibly added in solidarity with Paris in the wake of the November 13 ISIS terror attacks

Jong-nam's Facebook profile shows a squirrel along with a French flag filter - possibly added in solidarity with Paris in the wake of the November 13 ISIS terror attacks

South Korean intelligence chiefs say he was poisoned by agents from the North as he walked through Kuala Lumpur International Airport on his way to board a flight.

Asian news websites are now reporting that the Facebook profile is that of the estranged relative of North Korea's dictator who had been living in exile in Macau.

But a former intelligence secretary to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak claims that his 'careless' use of emails and social media may have prompted his assassination.

Cha Du-hyeogn told NK News Jong-nam was known to have used commercial e-mail addresses to communicate.

He said: 'Open activities like these do not look like they are coming from a person who is constantly under the death threats.

 A former intelligence secretary to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak claims that his 'careless' use of emails and social media may have prompted his assassination

A former intelligence secretary to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak claims that his 'careless' use of emails and social media may have prompted his assassination

 In 2010, he added another photo where he was posing in front of the five-star hotel Wynn Macau. He said of the image: 'Nice place!'

In 2010, he added another photo where he was posing in front of the five-star hotel Wynn Macau. He said of the image: 'Nice place!'

.
 His profile suggests he studied at the International School of Geneva and at the Lycée français de Moscou

His profile suggests he studied at the International School of Geneva and at the Lycée français de Moscou

'I think it is possible that Kim (Jong-nam) was careless, leading to his unsuspecting death.'

Jong-nam's Facebook profile shows a squirrel along with a French flag filter - possibly added in solidarity with Paris in the wake of the November 13 ISIS terror attacks.

One of his photos posted in October 2008, shows him standing on a yacht with an unknown man. Five years later he commented on the photo, saying: 'I miss Europe!'

In 2010, he added another photo where he was posing in front of the five-star hotel Wynn Macau. He said of the image: 'Nice place!'

His profile suggests he studied at the International School of Geneva and at the Lycée français de Moscou.

A number of his Facebook friends use French language to comment on his photos.

'It is understood that one of the suspects, who was picked up from the same airport yesterday, was the one who had apparently finished the job,' said the paper, referring to the woman seen wearing a top with LOL emblazoned on the front.

Security camera footage reportedly shows the same woman wearing a dark-coloured glove on her left hand as she walked towards the taxi stand. By the time she reached the taxi area, she was no longer wearing the glove.

There are suggestions that the glove might have been laced with poison when it was wiped across Kim's face.

He had headed to the washroom immediately after the attack, but had then turned back to the information counter to seek help complaining of pain in his eyes.

The paper said it had seen footage of Kim, who was wearing a dark blue polo T-shirt, light blue jeans and brown shoes, slumped in an armchair.

'His eyes were shut and he appeared to be grimacing in pain.'

And in a startling claim the New Straits Times said it had been told there was a likelihood that one of the assailants who approached Kim - one from the front to distract him, the other to grab him around the throat from behind - was a man disguised as a woman.

The paper said the man police might be looking for could be a 40-year-old agent from the North Korean intelligence agency known as the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

It was reported that Kim had high blood pressure when he died. Following an autopsy, his tissue, urine and blood samples have been sent to a laboratory for analysis, which might take a week. 

Malaysia will return the body, which has been held at Kuala Lumpur Hospital following an autopsy, the results of which have not yet been released.

Kim, 46, died on the way to hospital after telling staff at Kuala Lumpur International Airport that a woman had sprayed, or wiped, a liquid on his face. 

He had collapsed shortly after revealing the incident. 

North Korean diplomats tried to prevent pathologists carrying out an autopsy on Kim, perhaps because they feared that if it was found a poison had indeed killed him it could be traced back to Pyongyang. 

The post-mortem examination went ahead anyway, but the results have yet to be made public.

Possible poisons are ricin, found in the seeds of castor oill plants, or tetrodotoxin, extracted from pufferfish. 

Ricin is slow acting, so it is less likely to have been used than tetrodotoxin, which can paralyse and kill victims quickly.

THE ASSASSINATION: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

The mystery of just what happened to the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he waited for a flight in a Malaysian airport has only deepened since news of his death emerged. 

Was Kim Jong Nam poisoned? Are the two female suspects trained killers or dupes? How can we be sure that North Korea, which seems the obvious culprit, was even involved?

South Korea's National Intelligence Service - no friend to Pyongyang - and eager reporters across Asia have assembled a dramatic profile of the last hour of Kim's life. But unanswered questions remain. Here are a few: 

WAS HE POISONED?

This one could be answered fairly soon.

Kim complained of being sprayed in the face with some sort of chemical before he died. Presumably Malaysian authorities' autopsy, which has been completed, will determine whether poison killed Kim, and, if so, what kind.

 
South Korean security experts believe North Korea, under dictator Kim Jong-Un (pictured), may have ordered the assassination

South Korean security experts believe North Korea, under dictator Kim Jong-Un (pictured), may have ordered the assassination

A big question is how possible killers would have managed to quickly inflict a fatal chemical dose on someone in the middle of a busy airport.

South Korea's intelligence service says Kim almost certainly was poisoned, but it's unclear whether a needle or spray was used, and the spy agency didn't elaborate.

One possibility for the poison is neostigmine bromide, which South Korean officials said was contained in a pen-like weapon used in a failed North Korean attempt to kill an anti-Pyongyang activist in 2011.

Or it could have been cyanide or sarin gas, according to a Seoul university professor who didn't want to be identified because Kim's autopsy results weren't out yet.

Sarin gas was used in a deadly attack on Tokyo's subways in 1995.

And if it turns out that Kim wasn't poisoned? Expect furious media backtracking, and flustered explanations in South Korea from the spy agency. 

WAS IT REALLY NORTH KOREA?

North Korea, of course, is the easy answer.

South Korea's spy service considers the North the bogeyman and almost immediately, in a private briefing to lawmakers in Seoul, pointed the finger at North Korean agents for the death, saying that Kim Jong Nam had been targeted for five years because of Kim Jong Un's 'paranoia.'

 
Kim Jong-nam was poisoned close to an information desk at Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Kim Jong-nam was poisoned close to an information desk at Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Most news media have run with this, but, so far, Malaysian officials have provided no solid links to North Korea.

When asked Thursday if North Korea was behind the murder, Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Zahid Hamidi said, 'That is speculation.'

This doesn't mean that North Korea couldn't have orchestrated such an attack. It does fit a certain profile: North Korean agents have, at times, run wild in South Korea, killing defectors, sometimes with poison, and critics.

WHO ARE THE ARRESTED WOMEN?

The two women arrested in connection with Kim's death were spotted on surveillance video at the airport where Kim fell ill.

Both are reportedly in their 20s. One held an Indonesian passport. The other had Vietnamese travel documents and was seen in grainy photos waiting for a cab while wearing a white jumper emblazoned with 'LOL' - internet-speak for Laugh Out Loud.

But their possible involvement in Kim's death is still unclear.

Were they simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? Were they North Korean agents, maybe even North Korean nationals using false passports? Kim Jong Nam, in one of his lowest moments, was humiliated while trying to sneak into Japan to visit Disneyland - with a Dominican passport.

Police are trying to verify if the women's travel documents are genuine, according to the Malaysian minister. Police said they have also arrested a third suspect, a Malaysian man thought to be the boyfriend of the suspect with an Indonesian passport.

 
A diplomatic vehicle leaves the North Korean Embassy as members of the media crowd near the building's main entrance, in Kuala Lumpur

A diplomatic vehicle leaves the North Korean Embassy as members of the media crowd near the building's main entrance, in Kuala Lumpur

If this was a carefully planned assassination - years in the making, as South Korean intelligence claims - it begs more questions: Would North Korean agents be so easily arrested - one of the women was picked up back at the airport, two days after Kim's death? Would they really take taxis from the scene of the crime?

ARE OTHER EXILED NORTH KOREANS IN DANGER?

South Korea's government said it was boosting security for high-profile defectors in the South, many of whom already have police protection.

Kim Jong Nam was long protected in his Macau base by China, according to Seoul's spy service. South Korean officials say he leaves behind two sons and a daughter between two different women living in Beijing and Macau.

Ha Taekeung, a South Korean lawmaker and North Korea human rights activist, said in a radio interview Thursday that Kim Jong Nam's son, Kim Han Sol, could be in danger because he knows sensitive secrets about Kim Jong Un's personal life.

Kim Han Sol, who lived with his father in Macao, referred to Kim Jong Un as a 'dictator' in a 2012 interview.

WHAT WILL CHINA DO?

China, North Korea's most important ally, has said little officially about the death. Beijing reportedly saw Kim as a potential leader should North Korea's government ever collapse.

An editorial in Global Times, the ruling Communist Party's English-language newspaper, said Thursday that China would offer condemnation if Kim was found to have been assassinated.

'Regardless of how intense a country's political struggle might be, there is no doubt that it should never rely on assassination methods as means for its advancement,' said the editorial. 'Although a final conclusion has yet to emerge regarding Kim Jong Nam's sudden death, speculation remains sharply pointed at Pyongyang.' 

Deputy Police Inspector-General Rashid Ibrahim said yesterday that investigators were 'not ruling out the possibility that more suspects will be picked up in the coming days.' 

Kim Jong-nam had lived with the threat of death for years, since fleeing North Korea in fear of torture and execution. There had already been one botched attempt on his life.

He travelled with bodyguards on his regular trips in Asia and occasionally Europe, usually on a false passport, in this case under the name of Kim Chol. 

But a brief lapse in his personal security between arriving at the airport and proceeding to passport control for his flight to Macau, where he lives in exile, left Kim Jong-nam alone, giving an assassin the chance to strike in the shopping concourse. 

 
Former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (bottom left) poses with his first-born son Kim Jong Nam (bottom right), in this 1981 family photo in Pyongyang, North Korea

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (bottom left) poses with his first-born son Kim Jong Nam (bottom right), in this 1981 family photo in Pyongyang, North Korea

 
Kim Jong-Nam was once considered heir apparent but fell out of favour with his father Kim Jong-Il following a botched attempt in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passport and visit Disneyland

Kim Jong-Nam was once considered heir apparent but fell out of favour with his father Kim Jong-Il following a botched attempt in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passport and visit Disneyland

An agent arrested on a mission last year revealed how he was equipped by North Korean Intelligence with what looked like a Parker pen, but contained a retractable needle for administering a fatal dose of a toxin described as 'more potent than cyanide'.

It caused muscle paralysis, breathlessness, suffocation and death, and was the method of choice for covert killings. 

Jong-nam's killing was probably motivated by a recent news report that he had sought to defect to the EU, the U.S. or South Korea as far back as 2012, it has been claimed.

'LITTLE GENERAL' WHO FELL OUT OF FAVOUR WITH PYONGYANG

They used to call him the 'Little General' but Kim Jong-Nam - once heir-apparent to his father and North Korea's then-leader Kim Jong-Il - fell from grace in 2001 after a spectacular blunder.

On Tuesday, after more than a decade in exile from the North, Jong-Nam - the 45-year-old half-brother of current leader Kim Jong-Un - was widely reported by South Korean media to have been assassinated in Malaysia.

Born from his father's relationship with actress Sung Hae-rim, Jong-Nam is known to have been a computer enthusiast, a fluent Japanese speaker and a student in both Russia and Switzerland.

He lived in Pyongyang after finishing his overseas studies and was put in charge of overseeing North Korea's information technology policy.

But the chubby eldest son of the supreme leader was already seen by Seoul experts as something of a political lightweight when in 2001 he fell out of favour.

 
Jong-nam (pictured) was reportedly close to his uncle Jang Song-Thaek, once the North's unofficial number two and political mentor of the current leaderJong-nam (pictured) was reportedly close to his uncle Jang Song-Thaek, once the North's unofficial number two and political mentor of the current leader 

Jong-nam (pictured) was reportedly close to his uncle Jang Song-Thaek, once the North's unofficial number two and political mentor of the current leader

He was embarrassingly detained at a Tokyo airport, trying to enter Japan to visit Disneyland on a false Dominican Republic passport, accompanied by two women and a child.

Jong-Nam and his family afterwards lived in virtual exile in Macau, Singapore and China.

Jong-Nam's half-brother Jong-Un took over as North Korean leader when their father died in December 2011.

In an email exchange with a Japanese journalist published in 2012, Jong-Nam spoke disparagingly of Jong-Un, saying he lacked 'any sense of duty or seriousness' and warned that bribery and corruption would lead to North Korea's eventual collapse.

In another exchange with the same reporter in 2012, Jong-Nam said: 'Anyone with normal thinking would find it difficult to tolerate three generations of hereditary succession.'

 Kim Jong-Nam was once dubbed  the 'Little General', but fell out of favour with his father

Kim Jong-Nam was once dubbed the 'Little General', but fell out of favour with his father

In October 2012 South Korean prosecutors said a North Korean detained as a spy had admitted involvement in a plot to stage a hit-and-run car accident in China in 2010 targeting Jong-Nam.

In 2014 Jong-Nam was reported to be in Indonesia - sighted at an Italian restaurant run by a Japanese businessman in Jakarta - and was said to be shuttling back and forth between Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and France.

In 2012 a Moscow newspaper reported that Jong-Nam was having financial problems after being cut off by the Stalinist state for doubting its succession policy.

The Argumenty i Fakty weekly said he was kicked out of a luxury hotel in Macau over a $15,000 debt.

Jong-Nam's son Kim Han-Sol studied at university in Paris. Back in 2012, when at school in Bosnia, he labelled his uncle Kim Jong-Un a 'dictator' in an interview.

'My dad (Jong-Nam) was not really interested in politics,' Kim told the interviewer when asked why his father was passed over for the dynastic succession in favour of his younger brother.

Just days after the international condemnation of North Korea's 'game-changing' latest ballistic missile test, the assassination on foreign soil has prompted further outrage. 

For 33-year-old Kim Jong-un, the burial of his half-brother will bring to a triumphant end to a long-running saga of jealousy, paranoia and, ultimately, fratricide that would not have seemed out of place in Ancient Rome.

Kim Jong-nam was once the heir apparent of North Korea, the eldest, albeit illegitimate, son of the 'Dear Leader', Kim Jong-il, by a South Korean actress (who died in mysterious circumstances in Moscow in 2002).

 North Korean ambassador Kang Chol pictured inside the mortuary of the Kuala Lumpur Forensic Department. North Korea has ordered Malaysia to hand over the body

North Korean ambassador Kang Chol pictured inside the mortuary of the Kuala Lumpur Forensic Department. North Korea has ordered Malaysia to hand over the body

His existence was kept secret by his father for many years, and he was not allowed to mix with his siblings from Kim Jong-il's other affairs and marriages.

However, he wanted for nothing, living in a mansion, surrounded by the latest toys from Europe and being driven on jaunts around the North Korean capital in a black Mercedes. At the age of ten he was sent abroad to study at the International School of Berne in Switzerland, where he became fluent in French.

On his return to North Korea aged 17, Kim Jong-nam enrolled at a university. But his relationship with his father had deteriorated and he blamed his younger half-brother, Kim Jong-un, for taking advantage of his father's loneliness while he was out of the country.

But Kim Jong-nam was a young man whose European experiences had filled him full of 'dangerous ideas', such as free market reforms to end rampant poverty and starvation in his home country.

These suggestions outraged his father and caused apoplexy among the ruling elite. 'I was viewed with suspicion,' he admitted.

His spell in Switzerland had also introduced him to life's luxuries — and to sex. 

The playboy half-brother of Kim Jong-Un (pictured, centre) was killed by two female assassins with poisoned needles at an airport in Malaysia, it has been claimed

The playboy half-brother of Kim Jong-Un (pictured, centre) was killed by two female assassins with poisoned needles at an airport in Malaysia, it has been claimed

Despite Japan being a sworn enemy of the regime, he would regularly fly to Tokyo using a false passport to indulge his playboy lifestyle in nightclubs, casinos and the city's red-light district. 

The tubby Korean, just 5ft 2in tall and weighing 14st, was a regular at an establishment known as Soap Land, where hostesses charge clients up to £300 an hour for their services.

In 2001 he was caught in Tokyo on a false passport, on a trip to Japan's Disneyland. Retribution was swift and he was imprisoned for three days by his father before being banished from North Korea for ever. 

He lived in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and France, acquiring two wives and a son, before settling in the Chinese territory of Macau, where his lavish lifestyle was bankrolled by China — a huge power behind the scenes in North Korea.

Beijing saw the exiled brother as a useful asset should they ever need to attempt to replace the 'Supreme Leader' with another member of the dynasty.

When Kim Jong-un came to power in 2011 after the Dear Leader's death, his half-brother never lost an opportunity to attack his regime, claiming that without reforms North Korea would collapse and decrying the herditary transition of power, and he recklessly encouraged speculation that he could one day replace his half-brother.

North Korea has so far made no comment about a murder that is making headlines around the world. 

Significantly, the death of a close relative of the ruling family in such strange circumstances has not merited a single word in the state-controlled media. 

JONG-NAM 'PLEADED FOR HIS LIFE TO BE SPARED'

The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un pleaded for his life to be spared after a failed assassination bid in 2012, lawmakers briefed by Seoul's spy chief have claimed.

Jong-Nam, the eldest son of the late former leader Kim Jong-Il, was once seen as heir apparent but fell out of favour following an embarrassing botched bid in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passport and visit Disneyland.

He has since lived in virtual exile, mainly in the Chinese territory of Macau, while Jong-Un took over the isolated, nuclear-armed state after the death of his father in December 2011.

The North in 2012 tried to assassinate Jong-Nam - known to be a supporter of reform in Pyongyang - Seoul lawmakers said following a closed-door briefing by the chief of the National Intelligence Service, Lee Byung-Ho.

The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un pleaded for his life to be spared after a failed assassination bid in 2012, lawmakers briefed by Seoul's spy chief said today

The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un pleaded for his life to be spared after a failed assassination bid in 2012, lawmakers briefed by Seoul's spy chief said today

'According to (Lee)... there was one (assassination) bid in 2012, and Jong-Nam in April 2012 sent a letter to Jong-Un saying 'Please spare me and my family,'' Kim Byung-Kee, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee, told reporters.

'It also said 'We have nowhere to go... we know that the only way to escape is suicide',' he said, adding Jong-Nam had little political support at home and posed little threat to Jong-Un.

Jong-Nam's family - his former and current wives and three children - are currently living in Beijing and Macau, said another committee member, Lee Cheol-Woo.

'They are under the protection by the Chinese authorities,' he said, adding Jong-Nam had entered Malaysia on February 6, a week before his death.

Jong-Nam's murder is the highest-profile death under the Kim Jong-Un's regime since the execution of the leader's uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, in December 2013.

Jang, known to be close to China and an advocate of economic reform in the North, was charged with treason.

Jong-Nam, believed to have ties with Beijing's elite, was a relatively outspoken figure, publicly criticising Pyongyang's political system.

The 45-year-old said he 'personally opposed' the hereditary power transfer in his own family, during an interview with Japan's Asahi TV in 2010.

One of his sons - Han-Sol - also described his uncle, Jong-Un, as a 'dictator' in a rare interview with a Finnish TV station in 2012 while he was studying in Europe.

 
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By Mathias Dillion 02/16/2017 21:05:00