Seoul, Feb 15: The South Korean government on Wednesday convened an urgent meeting among its top defence and intelligence officials to discuss the alleged assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother, a media report said.
Media reported Kim Jong-nam's death in Malaysia. He is elder to the North Korean leader, Efe news reported. The 45-year-old eldest son of late Dictator Kim Jong-il, died on Monday, according to intelligence sources cited by Yonhap news agency, although Seoul has not yet officially confirmed the news.
Malaysian police on Tuesday reported the death of a North Korean citizen named Kim Chol, who was born in 1970, after being transferred to a hospital by ambulance from Kuala Lumpur Airport.
At the moment they are trying to confirm the identity of the deceased as well as to determine the causes of his death. Hwang Kyo-ahn, the Prime Minister and acting President of South Korea, will analyze on Wednesday the existing information together with the Defence, Foreign and Unification ministers, according to government sources.
Sources cited by South Korea's KBS broadcaster and TV Chosun said that Kim's death came after he was attacked with poisoned needles or with a toxic aerosol - according to different versions - by two women at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, adding that the suspects fled by taxi.
South Korean analysts point out that this could be a murder orchestrated by the Kim Jong-un regime to get rid of an uncomfortable figure and possible rival to power, a scenario that has already been speculated on several occasions since the rise of the young dictator.
Kim Jong-nam had been considered best placed to replace his father as the head of the North Korean regime until he fell out of favour at the turn of the century, and since then it is believed that he resided mainly between Hong Kong, Macao and Beijing without holding any official position in the North Korean regime.
The eldest son of the former dictator definitely lost his father's backing in 2001 when he was detained at Tokyo airport with a false Dominican passport, which he was allegedly using to enter Japan for a visit of Disneyland, near Tokyo.
Born to the dictator Kim Jong-il and his first mistress, actress Song Hye-rim, Kim Jong-nam has attracted attention in recent years with his criticism against the North Korean regime's policies and its succession system through correspondence with a Japanese journalist and in statements to a television station of the same country.