The older half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has died in Malaysia under suspicious circumstances.
South Korean news station TV Chosun is reporting that Kim Jong-nam was attacked by two unidentified women with “poisoned needles” at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Reports that these women were agents of North Korea have yet to be confirmed.
Nam was rushed to hospital by ambulance but died on route. The cause of his death has yet to be confirmed by Malaysian police.
Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, holds no official title and has played no part in running North Korea.
However weeks after his younger half-brother took power, he described the regime as “a joke to the outside world” and said he opposed the hereditary transfer of power in the country.
If it is confirmed that North Korean operatives were responsible, his death would be the highest-profile killing connected directly with North Korea since Kim Jong-un ordered the arrest and execution of his uncle and close adviser, Jang Song-thaek, in December 2013.
The notoriously secretive regime has often reacted severely to criticism from both internal and external sources, with purges and assassinations being the weapons of choice for Kim Jong-Un’s North Korea.
Kim Jong-nam’s death comes just days after the regime came under renewed international pressure following the test-launch of a medium-to-long-range ballistic missile to coincide with Donald Trump’s summit with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe.