Who was Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of N. Korean dictator Kim Jong Un?
The estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been killed in Malaysia, a South Korean government source told Reuters on Tuesday. Time
Kim Jong Nam, the older half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, collapsed at the Kuala Lumpur airport and died, Malaysian police said Tuesday in what may have been an assassination carried out by North Korean agents.
Here's what you need to know about him:
Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011, and was at one time considered the heir apparent to rule the isolated country, which has been governed by three generations of the Kim family.
Kim Jong Nam attended Kim Il-sung University and served with the Korean People's Army before being appointed in 1998 to a senior position in the Ministry of Public Security. He was also reported to have been appointed head of North Korea's Computer Committee, in charge of developing an information technology industry, according to The Telegraph.
In 2001, he was arrested at Tokyo’s Narita Airport after trying to enter Japan on a forged passport from the Dominican Republic. He told police he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
After falling out of favor with his father, Kim Jong Nam lived in exile in Macau, a Chinese island known as a gambling mecca. In emails to the Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun, he said the rift had grown because he insisted on reforms. "After I went back to North Korea following my education in Switzerland, I grew further apart from my father because I insisted on reform and market-opening and was eventually viewed with suspicion,” he wrote.
Kim Jong Nam also criticized North Korea’s dynastic succession and said he had no interest in running the country, which remains in the iron grip of his half-brother. It was widely speculated that he lived in fear for his life under Kim Jong Un's harsh regime, and there have been reports of other assassination attempts in the past.