The two women involved in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the elder half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, are most likely to be members of an elite female reconnaissance team, according to a former North Korean ranking intelligence official.
"I am confident that North Korea mobilized the Moran Platoon to kill Kim Jong-nam," the former North Korean official said Thursday, on condition of anonymity.
"The special unit, affiliated with the Reconnaissance General Bureau, consists of women in their late teens and 20s."
After acquiring crucial skills, including learning foreign languages and battle techniques, these members are allocated to groups of three to five and deployed to carry out overseas espionage, the defector explained.
North Korea has been known to use attractive female agents and poison in high-profile assassination and mass terrorist attacks, seeking easier access to targets.
One example was Kim Hyun-hee, who was convicted of bombing a South Korean airplane in 1987 under the direction of the North Korea regime.
"When North Korea reorganised its current RGB in 2009, it visibly increased the number of female spies and expanded their range of action," another defector who formerly worked for the bureau said in an interview with Radio Free Asia.
The 46-year-old Kim was killed by poison Monday at Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The two young women who were witnessed to have approached the target were arrested by the local police, but a larger assassination team is presumed to be behind the duo.
The RGB had been seeking to have the state chief's estranged brother killed over the past five years, according to the National Intelligence Service.