N Korean leader’s brother was CIA informant: report

AFP and AP, SEOUL

Wed, Jun 12, 2019 - Page 1

Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who was killed in Malaysia in 2017, was a CIA informant, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

The South Korean National Intelligence Service and Ministry of Unification, which oversees ties with North Korea, said they could not confirm the report.

Citing “a person knowledgeable about the matter,” the Journal said that Kim Jong-nam had met with CIA operatives several times.

According to the Journal’s source, there was a “nexus” between Kim Jong-nam and the CIA, but the paper said many details of his connection with the agency were unclear.

The source said Kim Jong-nam traveled to Malaysia in February 2017 to meet his CIA contact, but that might not have been the only purpose of his trip.

He died after being attacked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13, 2017, in a Cold War-style assassination that shocked the world.

Two young women, a Vietnamese and an Indonesian, were arrested and charged with the murder. They said they were tricked by North Korean agents into carrying out the hit and had thought it was a reality TV show prank.

Malaysian prosecutors eventually dropped the murder charges against them: Indonesian Siti Aisyah was released in March, while Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong was freed last month.

Once seen as heir apparent to the North’s leadership, Kim Jong-nam apparently fell from grace after being deported from Japan in 2001 for trying to enter on a forged passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

Since then he had been living in virtual exile, mainly in Macau.

“Several former US officials said the half brother, who had lived outside of North Korea for many years and had no known power base in Pyongyang, was unlikely to be able to provide details of the secretive country’s inner workings,” the Journal said.