February 17, 2017
The assassination came as a recently published book by this writer, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age, called for waging an information warfare campaign that would use the estranged brother of Kim Jong Un as a replacement leader.
Since taking power in 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Un has ruled with an iron grip while carrying out ruthless purges of perceived opponents. As many as 300 officials have been killed in the purges, including Kim’s pro-China uncle, Jang Sang Taek.
Kim Jong Nam, 45, at one time was considered the heir to the late Kim Jong Il, but he ran afoul of the Pyongyang communist family dynasty after his 2001 arrest in Japan for entering the country using a false passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
As the Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial, Kim Jong Nam was viewed as a threat to the Kim Jong Un regime because of past comments criticizing the North Korean system. “North Korea should pay attention to reform and openness. If it continues like this, it cannot become an economic power,” Jong Nam was quoted as telling a Japanese newspaper in 2011.
Jong Nam also opposed the dynastic communist system, which he said “does not fit with socialism and my father was against it.”
He also was close to his uncle Jang, who was executed in 2013, allegedly for corruption but more likely for his close ties to the Chinese. Jong Nam’s support for Jang is an indication he favored the reform communism of China over the Stalinist North Korean model.
An “information warfare campaign” to topple Kim Jong-un seems like a long shot, at best. But Jong-nam’s connections with China and Jang were seemingly enough to earn his half-brother’s wrath.