Suspect arrested over death of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother
HONG KONG — A woman has been arrested in connection with the death of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Malaysian police said.
She was detained Wednesday at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 carrying a Vietnamese travel document.
Earlier, South Korea’s intelligence committee said two Asian women were suspected of murdering Kim Jong Nam, who died soon after being attacked at the same airport.
Investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy on his body.
Kim is believed to have been poisoned, South Korea’s National Assembly Intelligence Committee Chairman Lee Cheol Woo told a press briefing Wednesday.
Lee did not say how Kim was poisoned or how South Korea obtained the information. According to CNN’s Will Ripley, who is in Pyongyang, Kim’s death has not been publicized in North Korea and is unlikely to be, given political sensitivities.
Kim was boarding a flight to the island of Macau, a Chinese territory, to visit his family when he was attacked, Lee said.
Kim went to the counter at KLIA asking for help, the Royal Malaysian Police said in a statement.
A Malaysian official told CNN that the man was then taken to an airport clinic, which decided to send him to the hospital. He died en route.
“The deceased … felt like someone grabbed or held his face from behind,” Selangor State Criminal Investigations Department Chief Fadzil Ahmat told Reuters.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Wednesday it was working with Malaysian authorities, while the country’s acting President and Prime Minister discussed the death at a National Security Council meeting.
The North Korean embassy in Malaysia said they had no information about Kim’s death when contacted by CNN, but a car with a North Korean flag on it was seen entering the hospital mortuary where Kim’s body is believed to be.
Numerous unsubstantiated reports of how Kim was attacked have been circulated but Malaysian police are providing few details.
The Malaysian inspector general of police said in a news release Tuesday the deceased North Korean man was traveling with a passport bearing the name Kim Chol.
Kim, who was in his mid-40s, had a reputation for traveling on fake passports — it may have even been tied to his fall from grace in his home country.
While Kim was the most public of all Kim Jong Il’s sons before his half-brother Kim Jong Un took power, it was reported he lost favor with his father after he used a forged document to try to visit Tokyo Disneyland in 2001.
His absence from his father’s funeral in 2011 fueled earlier rumors that he had been banished from North Korea.
North Korean playboy
Kim Jong Nam was the son of Kim Jong Il and Song Hye Rim, one of his favored mistresses.
He had a different mother to North Korea’s current leader Kim Jong Un, his father’s youngest son, who was born to another mistress, Ko Yong Hui.
Kim Jong Nam didn’t believe his brother had the ability to properly lead North Korea, according to author Yoji Gomi who wrote the 2012 book “My Father, Kim Jong Il, and Me.”
But he never actually met his Kim Jong Un, due to the North Korean practice of raising potential successors separately.
After his departure from North Korea, the older Kim made his name for being an overweight and careless playboy, who was also willing to speak out about his family.
“He spoke out against his father’s ‘military first’ policy,” Gomi told CNN in 2012. “He wants North Korea to embrace economic reform and open its doors.”
CNN’s Matt Rivers in Seoul; Saima Mohsin in Kuala Lumpur; and Andreena Narayan in Hong Kong contributed to this report, as did journalists KL Chan, Bobin Seo and Sandi Sidhu