“The longstanding order has been executed.”
South Korea’s spy chief claims that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un ordered the assassination of his half-brother. Kim Jong Nam died after two women attacked him at a Malaysian airport. From The Wall Street Journal:
“The longstanding order has been executed,” said Lee Cheol-woo, who heads the South Koreanlegislature’s intelligence committee, which oversees the spy agency, according to an aide of his in the session with the spy chief. “It reflects Kim Jong Un’s propensity for paranoia, rather than his calculated act of removing a threat to his rule.”
Mr. Lee, the spy chief, said Kim Jong Nam had in April, 2012, sent a letter to Kim Jong Un to ask for mercy to save him and his family, according to the aide. The spy chief said that Kim Jong Nam wrote in the letter that he and his family had “nowhere to run and hide”and no other option left but to “commit suicide to escape.”
Lee stated that Kim Jong Nam had one wife and a son in Beijing, China, and another wife and two children in Macau. The Chinese had him under protection, but the government has not released any comments or statements.
Lee does not know if Kim Jong Nam ever sought asylum to South Korea or even tried to defect there. He also does not know if the brother ever tried to overthrow Kim Jong Un or if others in North Korea wanted to put Kim Jong Nam on the throne.
Malaysian officials arrested one woman, carrying a Vietnamese passport, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport:
“We believe she has a strong connection with the murder,” said Malaysia Deputy Inspector General of Police, Noor Rashid Ibrahim. “We are still looking for a few suspects, they are all still in Malaysia.”
The two women attacked Kim Jong nam as he waited to board a plane to Macau. They placed a “poison-tinged cloth” to his face. He died on the way to the hospital. Medical officials will perform an autopsy today under the supervision of “at least three North Korean Embassy vehicles and about 10 Malaysian police.” North Korea demanded Malaysia hand over the body “without a postmortem,” but officials denied the request.
Many thought former dictator Kim Jong Il would choose Kim Jong Nam as his successor, but the two had a falling out in 2001 when authorities arrested the son when he tried to use a Dominican passport to enter Japan. He told them he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
Kim Jong Nam wrote a book with Japanese reporter Yoji Komi in 2012. In it, he described how “he pushed internally for reform and market opening, which made him an object of suspicion in Pyongyang.” The Journal continued:
After the birth of Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Nam told the reporter that he had lost the affection of his father, who diverted his devotion to his younger half-siblings.
“I think he represented an alternative path which North Korea might have taken some years ago where some aspects of the Kim family system could have been retained alongside reforms toward a more collective leadership and an actual opening up to the outside world,” said Adam Cathcart, a North Korea expert at Leeds University in the U.K.
The assassination should not shock anyone. Kim Jong Un has a history of eliminating anyone he sees as a threat to his throne:
The most spectacular among them was the 2013 execution of his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, once considered the country’s second most powerful man, for what the North alleged was treason. The South’s government has said the North also executed a vice premier for education in 2016 for unspecified anti-revolutionary and factional acts, and a defense minister in 2015 for treason.
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