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SEOUL, 14 Feb 2017:
The estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been killed in Malaysia, a South Korean government source said today.
He was confirmed dead by Malaysian police, and was believed to be in his mid-40s.
In a statement later, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the 46-year-old man was identified based on his travel document under the name of Kim Chol – passport number 836410070 stating he was born in Pyongyang on 10 June 1970.
Selangor CID chief SAC Fadzil Ahmat said the cause of Kim’s death had not been determined yet, but a post mortem would be carried out on the body.
“So far there are no suspects, but we have started investigations and are looking at a few possibilities to get leads.”
Fadzil said Kim had been planning to travel to Macau yesterday when he fell ill at the KL International Airport (KLIA). “Initial police investigations found the man was at KLIA at 8am to take a flight to Macau in China scheduled at 9am yesterday.
“While waiting for the flight, a woman came from behind and covered his face with a cloth laced with a liquid, “The deceased … felt like someone grabbed or held his face from behind,” Fadzil said.
“He felt dizzy, so he asked for help at the … counter of KLIA. He managed to obtain the assistance of a KLIA receptionist as his eyes suffered burns as a result of the liquid.
“We don’t know if there was a cloth or needles; the receptionist said someone grabbed his face, he felt dizzy,” Fadzil said, when asked about the nature of the reported attack.
Kim was taken to an airport clinic where he still felt unwell, and it was decided to take him to hospital. He died in the ambulance on the way to Putrajaya Hospital, Fadzil added.
An employee in the emergency ward of Putrajaya Hospital earlier said a deceased Korean there was born in 1970 and surnamed Kim.
South Korea’s TV Chosun, a cable television network, said that Kim was poisoned at the airport by two women believed to be North Korean operatives, who were at large, citing multiple South Korean government sources.
Kim Jong Nam, the older half brother of the North Korean leader, was known to be based mostly outside of his home country and had spoken out publicly against his family’s dynastic control of the isolated state.
Kim Jong Nam and Kim Jong Un are both sons of former leader Kim Jong Il, who died in late 2011, but they had different mothers. Kim Jong Nam did not attend his father’s funeral.
Kim Jong Nam was believed to be close to his uncle Jang Song Thaek, who was North Korea’s second most powerful man before being executed on Kim Jong Un’s orders in 2013.
In 2001, Kim Jong Nam was caught at an airport in Japan travelling on a fake passport, saying he had wanted visit Tokyo Disneyland. He was known to travel to Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China.
Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Dongguk University in Seoul, said that Kim Jong Nam had occasionally been the subject of speculation that he could replace his younger half-brother, the country’s third-generation leader. “Loyalists may have wanted to get rid of him.”
He had said several times over the years that he had no interest in leading his country.
“Personally I am against third-generation succession,” he told Japan’s Asahi TV in 2010, before his younger had succeeded their father.
“I hope my younger brother will do his best for the sake of North Koreans’ prosperous lives.”
His cousin, Lee Han-young, who defected to South Korea through Switzerland in 1982, was shot and killed by North Korean agents in Seoul in 1997, according to South Korea.
Kim Jong Nam’s mother was an actress named Song Hye Rim.
“My father was keeping highly secret the fact that he was living with my mother who was married, a famous movie actress, so I couldn’t get out of the house or make friends,” Kim Jong Nam was quoted as saying in a 2012 book by a Japanese journalist.
“That solitude from childhood may have made me what I am now, preferring freedom.”
Separately, North Korea rejected today the UN Security Council’s statement on its weekend missile launch and declared that all of its tests were “self-defence measures” designed to protect its people.
The UN Security Council yesterday denounced North Korea’s missile launch, urging members to “redouble efforts” to enforce sanctions against the reclusive state, but gave no indications of any action it might take.
Han Tae Song, the new ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the UN in Geneva, was addressing the Conference on Disarmament a day after taking up his post.
“The various test fires conducted by DPRK for building up self-defence capabilities are, with no exception, self-defence measures to protect national sovereignty and the safety of the people against direct threats by hostile forces,” Han told the 61-member state forum.
“The successful test launch of a medium-to-long range missile on Feb 12 is a part of self-defence measures,” he said. “In this respect, my delegation strongly rejects the latest statement of the UN Security Council and all UN resolutions against my country.”
In New York, US ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement after the Security Council meeting that it was “time to hold North Korea accountable” with “actions”.
US, Japanese and South Korean military officials held a teleconference yesterday in which they condemned the launch as “a clear violation” of multiple Security Council resolutions. The US “reaffirmed its iron-clad security commitments” to South Korea and Japan, the Pentagon said.
Han said the divided Korean peninsula “remains the world’s biggest hotspot with a constant danger of war”.
He condemned joint military exercises carried out annually by South Korea and the US, as well as what he called “nuclear threats” and blackmail towards his country.
“It is the legitimate self-defence right of the sovereign state to possess strong deterrence to cope with such threat by hostile forces aimed at overthrowing the state and the socialist system.”
North Korea shared mankind’s common goal of global denuclearisation, Han said.
“The DPRK supports global efforts toward nuclear disarmament and complete obliteration of nuclear weapons and we play a responsible role to contribute to achieving global denuclearisation.”
Japan’s disarmament ambassador Nobushige Takamizawa in Geneva condemned North Korea’s latest missile launch and urged Pyongyang to comply with Security Council resolutions and not take further “provocative actions” that undermine peace and security in the region.
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