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Who Hired Deadly Assassins to Slay N Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un's Half-Brother?

© REUTERS / Lim Se-young/News1People watch a TV screen broadcasting a news report on the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the older half brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, February 14, 2017
People watch a TV screen broadcasting a news report on the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the older half brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, February 14, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Speculation is rife on who was behind the death of Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who was killed in Malaysia on Monday.

In this June 4, 2010 file photo, Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, waves after his first-ever interview with South Korean media in Macau, China - Sputnik International
Kim Jong Un's Half-Brother Assassinated in Malaysia
The half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un was assassinated on Monday at a Malaysian airport, media reported, citing a source in the South Korean government.

45-year-old Kim Jong-nam was the eldest son of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-il and actress Sung Hae-rim, who passed away in 2002.

Kim left the country long ago and resided in Macau, where he had a business. Before leaving the country, he was considered the main candidate for succeeding Kim Jong-il.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the broadcaster Chosun said on Tuesday that Kim Jong-nam had allegedly been killed by two unidentified women with poisoned needles at an airport in Malaysia. The police reportedly suspect the killers of having links to North Korea.

Meanwhile, Malaysian authorities have detained a woman in the low-cost terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport; she is thought to have been linked to the assassination team that killed Kim Jong-nam, according to The Telegraph.

Musudan-class missiles are displayed during a military parade in honour of the 100th birthday of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012 - Sputnik International
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Earlier on Wednesday, South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn convened a meeting of the country's national security council following the death of Kim Jong-nam, who some say could have been assassinated by Pyongyang's security agents, while others mention the China factor as a reason.

There's little doubt, given that China has always perceived the political instability in North Korea as its own security problem that something prompted Beijing to keep a watchful eye on the developments related to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

In an interview with Sputnik Korea, Shin Jong-dae, Vice-President of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said that under Kim Jong-il, there was open speculation about Kim Jong-nam becoming his successor in the event of an emergency, a scenario that was also considered by China.

"Beijing sees any signs of instability or aggravation in the situation in North Korea as a matter for its own security, bracing for consequences that may arise as a result of Kim Jong-un's possible illness, a coup or other force majeure situations," Shin Jong-dae said.

"It is unlikely that they used some kind of political engineering so that Kim Jong-nam could become the North Korean leader, but in any case they bore his possible nomination in mind in the event  of an emergency", he said.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the White House January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. - Sputnik International
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In contrast, Cheong Seong-chang, Director of the Department of Unification Strategy Studies at Sejong Institutein South Korea, remained skeptical about the allegations that China considered Kim Jong-nam an alternative successor to Kim Jong-il.

The assertion that China allegedly supported Kim Jong-nam holds no water, Cheong Seong-chang said.

"Of course, China could not but give kudos to Kim Jong-nam as the son of Kim Jong-il, but no more than that," according to him.

"I would describe as irrational the allegations that Kim Jong-nam, who actually had no clout in North Korea, received informal political support that went beyond formalities," Cheong Seong-chang concluded.

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