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Kim Jong Un’s brother ‘poisoned by female North Korean agents’

Published: Updated:

Malaysia has detained a woman holding a Vietnamese travel document in connection with the death of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, police said on Wednesday.

The woman, detained on Wednesday morning at the low-cost terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in the Malaysian capital, was identified on the travel document as Doan Thi Huong, police said in a statement.

The “suspect was positively identified from the CCTV footage at the airport and was alone at the time of arrest,” they added.

South Korea’s spy agency suspects two female North Korean agents assassinated the estranged half-brother of the North Korean leader on Monday, South Korean lawmakers in Seoul have said.

The agency also said North Korea had long prepared for the murder of Kim Jong Nam, according to lawmakers, although they did not say how the agency knows that.

Kim was assassinated on his way to the Chinese territory of Macau, where he had been living, the lawmakers said, adding that he had been given China's protection.

'He pleaded for his life'

The half-brother of the North Korean leader pleaded for his life to be spared after a failed assassination bid in 2012, lawmakers briefed by Seoul's spy chief said Wednesday.

Kim Jong-Nam died after reportedly being attacked by two women believed to be North Korean agents at a Kuala Lumpur airport on Monday.

Jong-Nam, the eldest son of the late former leader Kim Jong-Il, was once seen as heir apparent but fell out of favour following an embarrassing botched bid in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passport and visit Disneyland.

He has since lived in virtual exile, mainly in the Chinese territory of Macau, while Jong-Un took over the isolated, nuclear-armed state after the death of his father in December 2011.

The North in 2012 tried to assassinate Jong-Nam -- known to be a supporter of reform in Pyongyang -- Seoul lawmakers said following a closed-door briefing by the chief of the National Intelligence Service, Lee Byung-Ho.

"According to (Lee)... there was one (assassination) bid in 2012, and Jong-Nam in April 2012 sent a letter to Jong-Un saying 'Please spare me and my family,'" Kim Byung-Kee, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee, told reporters.

"It also said 'We have nowhere to go... we know that the only way to escape is suicide'," he said, adding Jong-Nam had little political support at home and posed little threat to Jong-Un.

Jong-Nam's family -- his former and current wives and three children -- are currently living in Beijing and Macau, said another committee member, Lee Cheol-Woo.

"They are under the protection by the Chinese authorities," he said, adding Jong-Nam had entered Malaysia on February 6, a week before his death.

Jong-Nam's murder is the highest-profile death under the Kim Jong-Un's regime since the execution of the leader's uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, in December 2013.

Jang, known to be close to China and an advocate of economic reform in the North, was charged with treason.

Jong-Nam, believed to have ties with Beijing's elite, was a relatively outspoken figure, publicly criticizing Pyongyang's political system.

The 45-year-old said he "personally opposed" the hereditary power transfer in his own family, during an interview with Japan's Asahi TV in 2010.

One of his sons -- Han-Sol -- also described his uncle, Jong-Un, as a "dictator" in a rare interview with a Finnish TV station in 2012 while he was studying in Europe.

(Reuters and AFP)