KUALA LUMPUR: On the morning of Feb 13, Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was at Malaysia’s low-cost Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) and headed for his flight to Macau where he lives in exile.
He never made it home.
Here is a recap of the alleged assassination and the ensuing fallout.
FEB 13, 2017
As the portly 46-year-old was walking through the departure hall just after 8am, two women who had been tailing him struck, according to Malaysian police.
Kim sought help at the airport’s help desk, telling a receptionist there he felt dizzy. According to China Press, his last words were: “Very painful, very painful, I was sprayed with liquid.”
He was taken to a clinic one floor down from the arrival hall. At that point, he experienced mild seizure and was on the verge of passing out, reports said. An ambulance was called and he was sent to the Putrajaya Hospital close by.
“He died on the way to hospital,” a senior police source told ChannelNewsAsia.
A day later, South Korean media broke news of the death citing intelligence sources. Early reports allege that he was attacked with poison needles or splashed with an unknown liquid. Malaysian officials would only confirm that a Korean man, carrying travel documents under the name Kim Chol, died on the way to hospital.
CCTV images of the suspected attackers were published by the media and one of the women reportedly involved is seen sporting a white blouse with "LOL" written in front.
An autopsy on the body at Kuala Lumpur Hospital was also completed on Wednesday evening to the objection of North Korea, which wanted the body released immediately for cremation.
Malaysia's deputy prime minister confirmed three days after the North Korean man who died was Kim Jong Nam. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the press that Kim Jong Un's half-brother had travelled with a passport with the name “Kim Chol”.
On Friday, Malaysian authorities said they would not release the body of Kim Jong Nam until his family has provided a DNA sample.
At about 11.40pm, the North Korean envoy to Malaysia was spotted at Hospital Kuala Lumpur trying to gain access to the National Institute of Forensic Medicine at where Kim Jong Nam’s body is being held. He read out a statement accusing Malaysia of "forcing" a post-mortem on the body and alleged that it was "colluding with hostile forces" by rejecting demands to release the body.
In response, Malaysia’s police chief said: "Whilst in Malaysia, everyone has to obey our rules and regulations ...that includes North Korea."
Channel NewsAsia spoke to people in the hometown of the Indonesian suspect in Kim Jong Nam's death and is told the woman is "very timid" and very much an "introvert".
A fourth suspect, a North Korean identified as Ri Jong Chol, is arrested for the death of Kim, Malaysian authorities said.
Meanwhile the Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla told the media he believes Kim is a "victim of a victim", saying the Indonesian suspect detained had thought the alleged attack at the airport was part of a reality TV gag.
THE LIFE OF KIM JONG NAM
Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son of North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong-il. Unlike most of his isolated countrymen, he had a cosmopolitan upbringing and was educated at the International School of Geneva and Lycée Français Alexandre Dumas in Moscow.
He was considered to be in training as North Korea’s next supreme leader during the 1990s, but fell out of favour with his father after he was caught trying to enter Japan in 2001 on a fake passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
His birth was considered shameful because his father and mother, actress Sung Hye Rim, were unmarried.
He went into exile and was known to be living in Macau from around 2003, but also had relatives, including at least three children with three different women – two wives and one mistress – living in Beijing, according to South Korea’s intelligence service. His travels and good life were documented on a Facebook page under the name "Kim Chol", which some say may have been his undoing.