North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother dies in Malaysia

That's when Kim Jong-il began grooming another one of his four known sons, Kim Jong-un, to take the throne. We have recorded the initial report of the death.

Malaysian police told Reuters an unidentified North Korean man died en route to hospital from a Kuala Lumpur airport. According to the Mail, in 2011 a North Korean agent tried to assassinate Kim in Macau, but failed after a bloody shootout with his bodyguards.

Kim Jong Il had succeeded his father Kim Il Sung, the first leader of communist North Korea. At the time he told those questioning him that he had simply travelled to Japan to visit Disneyland.

Jong-Nam, who was travelling alone, had at 9am told airport staff at a reception desk that he felt "dizzy" after an unknown person had swabbed his face with an unknown object. Despite his slovenly appearance and a penchant for drinking and gambling, he was said to be something of an intellectual who expressed his belief in globalization, market economies and the need for North Korea to reform its Communist economy. "He thinks [Kim Jong Un] has a lack of experience".

Kim Jong Nam was the most public of all of Kim Jong Il's sons before Kim Jong Un took power, though most remember him for the scandalous headlines he made.

HE was the cheeky playboy half-brother of tyrant leader Kim Jong-un.

Selangor police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Fadzil Ahmat said Jong-Nam had gone to the counter to seek their assistance.

Since taking power in late 2011, Kim Jong Un has executed or purged a slew of high-level government officials in what the South Korean government has described as a "reign of terror".

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"It seems probable that the motivation for the murder was a continuing sense of paranoia on the part of Kim Jong Un, which may be a well-placed paranoia", Tokola wrote in a commentary Tuesday.

Police are looking into his movements while in Malaysia, as well as who he had met while staying in the country. The man received treatment at the airport clinic but died while being transferred to a nearby hospital, Reuters reported.

The Argumenty i Fakty weekly said he was kicked out of a luxury hotel in Macau over a US$15,000 debt. Call him Schrodinger's Kim. Pyongyang has been blamed for numerous attacks against defectors and critics overseas, including the 1974 assassination attempt against South Korean leader Park Chung-hee (whose wife was killed instead) and the 1987 bombing of a Korean airliner by a female North Korean agent.

Kim Jong-nam was born in 1971.

The South Korean president's office and intelligence authorities in Seoul had no comment on the reports, and there was no such report on North Korea's tightly controlled media - which rarely mentions the Kim family beyond the leadership.

If Kim's death is proven to be the work of North Korea's government, experts say it likely means Kim Jong-un deliberately acted to have his brother killed.

North Korean defections have also led to assassination attempts. Much of the news reported about North Korea-while not quite "fake news"-ends up being wrong".

As the eldest son, why did Kim not become leader?

  • Sonia Alvarado