News & Politics

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un's Older Brother Dies in Malaysia

Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, was killed in Malaysia, a South Korean government source reported. Police in Malaysia confirmed that an unidentified North Korean man had died en route to the hospital from Kuala Lumpur airport on Monday, Reuters reported.

“Personally I am against third-generation succession,” Kim Jong Nam, the older half-brother of the North Korean dictator, told Japan’s Asahi TV in 2010, before his younger brother succeeded their father. “I hope my younger brother will do his best for the sake of North Koreans’ prosperous lives.” The older brother had spoken out against his younger brother’s leadership in the country.

While the Malaysian police could not identify the deceased man, an employee in the emergency ward of Putrajaya hospital told Reuters a deceased Korean there was born in 1970 and surnamed Kim. The dictator’s brother was believed to be in his mid-40s.

South Korea’s cable television network Chosun reported that Kim was poisoned at Kuala Lumpur airport by two women believed to be North Korean operatives, whom South Korean government sources reported as being at large.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said it could not confirm the reports, and the country’s intelligence agency did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

The late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who died in late 2011, had two sons, Kim Jong Nam and Kim Jong Un, from two different mothers. While Kim Jong Un leads the country, he was the younger brother.

The older brother 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 traveling with a fake passport, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland. He was known to travel to Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China.

North Korea has been ranked as the worst country in the world for Christian persecution for the past 16 years, according to Open Doors. Kim Jong Un, like his father before him, requires nationwide worship of the Kim ruling family, so Christians and other religious believers are forced to hide their faith from government authorities, neighbors, and even their own families. Ever-present government surveillance makes even freedom of worship nearly impossible.

Kim Jong Un also just launched yet another ballistic missile, and the country is reportedly moving toward “greatly extended strike range.” Last month, when Kim promised the launch, Reuters reported that an expanded strike range could enable the isolated Asian nation to strike cities in the U.S. state of California.

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