North Korea leader’s half-brother and rival is dead in a suspected assassination

Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, died Monday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and South Korean television reported he was assassinated.

Once considered the successor to his father, Kim Jong Il, the 45-year-old Kim Jong Nam had been living incognito in exile in Macau, reportedly under the protection of the Chinese government. Although he disavowed any continued interest in the leadership, North Korea watchers invariably raised his name as a potential replacement in the case of a coup d’etat against Kim Jong Un.

Portly like his father and brother, and frequently photographed unshaven with his shirt tails hanging out, Kim was the heir apparent to North Korean leadership until 2001, when he was arrested in Tokyo trying to enter Japan on a false Dominican Republic passport. He told authorities he was trying to bring his son to Tokyo Disneyland.

After his public disgrace, the North Korean regime began grooming Kim Jong Il’s youngest son, Kim Jong Un, who ended up taking over the country while still in his 20s after the 2011 death of the father.

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