Kim Jong Un's sibling sought mercy from the North Korean leader, South Korean spy chief says
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un issued an assassination order to kill his half-brother after seizing power in 2011 and agents tried to execute it at least once before succeeding this week, South Korea's top spy chief said.
National Intelligence Service Director Lee Byung-ho's statement to South Korean lawmakers in a closed-door session on Wednesday came as Malaysia arrested a suspect in the mysterious airport killing this week of the brother, Kim Jong Nam.
"The longstanding order has been executed," said Lee Cheol-woo, who heads the South Korean legislature's intelligence committee, which oversees the spy agency, according to an aide to the lawmaker. "It reflects Kim Jong Un's propensity for paranoia, rather than his calculated act of removing a threat to his rule."
South Korea's spy agency sometimes errs in its assessments of developments inside North Korea, one of the world's most closed societies. But often it has been proved correct.
Malaysian police said they apprehended a woman at Kuala Lumpur International Airport holding a Vietnamese passport as they searched for two women they said had fatally attacked Kim Jong Nam on Monday with a poison-tinged cloth. The assault lasted about 15 seconds, a Malaysian official said.
Mr. Kim died while en route to a hospital. Malaysian officials said they declined a request by North Korea to turn over the remains without a postmortem.
The late Mr. Kim had a wife and son in Beijing and another wife with two children in Macau, Mr. Lee, the spy chief, said. Kim Jong Nam's families have long been placed under Chinese protection, he told lawmakers. China's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on that statement.
Mr. Lee said Kim Jong Nam, who had advocated reforms in North Korea, sent a letter to Kim Jong Un in April, 2012, to ask for mercy, according to the aide.
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