Murder of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia Sparks Tensions

Murder of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia Sparks Tensions

On February 14th, Kim Jong-nam, once heir to the North Korean dictatorship, was murdered in the Kuala Lumpur airport by two women. Kim Jong-nam was born in Pyongyang in 1970, and was the child to Kim Jong-il, then the leader of North Korea, and Song Hye-rim, one of his three lovers. Kim Jong-nam was homeschooled and kept away from the public during his childhood. He stepped into the spotlight in 1998, when he was appointed to a senior position in the Ministry of Public Security. Soon after, he became embroiled in several embarrassing public incidents, such as when he was arrested attempting to travel to Tokyo Disneyland on a fake passport.


The army soon switched to Kim Jong-un as their prefered leader, which meant that Kim Jong-nam was no longer a candidate to lead North Korea, and soon, reports began to come in that he and his family had moved to Macau. Jong-nam stated in an article that he was “viewed with suspicion” after he went to school in Switzerland and was presumed to be a capitalist by his father. After this, Jong-nam mostly stayed away from the public eye until his assassination last week.


Jong-nam was travelling under a false identity back to Macau to see his family when two women — as captured in the video cameras– attacked him with a liquid spray.  Both women claimed that their attack was a prank, and that they were paid by strangers to attack Jong-nam. Jong-nam was rushed to the hospital but died en route. In spite of  North Korean pushback, an autopsy was performed by the Malaysian government with North Korean officials present, and it was declared inconclusive. A second one may be conducted.
Jong-nam’s murder has strained already tenuous relationships between North Korea and Malaysia, with the North Korean ambassador refusing to accept the outcome of the autopsy due to the fact that it was performed without permission from the North Korean government. This dispute, in addition to speculations that the assassins were North Korean agents, has greatly increased tensions between the two countries. South Korea has officially accused North Korea of the assassination.

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