Kim Jong-nam wrote to Kim Jong-un in 2012 asking his half-brother and the recently anointed dictator of North Korea to spare his life and that of his family, the head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service revealed on Wednesday.
It comes as new pictures of a woman alleged to have been linked to the assassination team that killed the older brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Kuala Lumpur have been released by Malaysian media.
Kim Jong-nam, 45, died on Monday after collapsing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting to board a flight back to Macau, where he was living in exile.
Malaysian authorities have detained a woman in connection with the investigation. The woman, in her 20s, was detained in the low-cost terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Bernama news agency reported, citing a deputy inspector general of police.
Who are the suspects?
There are two female suspects and four male, police sources told the Telegraph. “One of the girls was told to hold a handkerchief on the face of the victim after he’d been sprayed by the other girl,” an unnamed senior police officer said. “She held it there for 10 seconds. She said she thought spraying him had been a ‘prank’.”
“One female suspect seen on CCTV was found wandering in the airport,” police said. She had apparently been “left behind” by the other assailants. The suspects were both Vietnamese and North Korean, police sources said.
Grainy CCTV images, published on the website of The Star newspaper, show a woman wearing a white shirt bearing the letters LOL and a blue skirt. She is carrying a small handbag over one shoulder.
The image emerged amid conflicting reports over the fate of the two women believed to have killed Mr Kim. Sources in Japan suggested that the two women were also dead, potentially having committed suicide.
A taxi driver, who is in his 30s, was also arrested soon after CCTV footage had been analysed.
“We have already looked through the CCTV footage, hence we managed to arrest the taxi driver who had taken the two woman who carried out the assassination,” said the senior police official who asked not to be named.
The women are thought to be agents of a foreign country, he said, refusing to speculate if they were hired by Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, who is suspected of ordering the murder.
The North Korean government has sent a senior diplomat to Malaysia, the officer stated, and asked that a post mortem examination of the body does not take place. The request was denied.
Kim Jong-nam ‘begged brother not to kill him’
Lee Byong-ho, the director of the agency, told a meeting of the government’s Intelligence Committee that Kim Jong-nam had been murdered with poison in Malaysia on Monday and that he had survived at least one previous attempt on his life, Yonhap News reported.
After that assassination attempt, in 2012, Kim Jong-nam wrote to his brother and asked that no further attacks be directed at him or his family.
Mr Lee added that Kim Jong-nam had stated on more than one occasion that he had no ambitions to seize control of North Korea and that he posed no threat to his half-brother. His assassination, therefore, was a result of Kim Jong-un’s “delusional disorder”, he added.
Kim Jong-nam’s first wife, Shin Jong-hui, currently lives in a northern suburb of Beijing with a son, while a second wife, Lee Hye-Kyong, lives in an apartment complex in Macau with their son, Han-sol, and daughter, Sol-hui.
The Chinese authorities have reportedly stepped up security around the two families, although it is not clear whether that security has been extended to Chen Jia-Xi, his mistress, and at least three other children with different women.
Of particular concern is the safety of Kim Han-sol, the 21-year-old son of Kim Jong-nam, who was given a police guard at his university in France in 2013 as uncertainties about the stability of the North Korean regime continued to grow.
Kim Han-sol may have incurred the wrath of his uncle after describing Mr Kim as a “dictator” in an interview with a Finnish TV station in 2012. He added that his ambition is to help the people of a reunited Korean peninsula.
That runs counter to Kim Jong-un’s vision for his nation and it is possible that the dictator now sees Kim Han-sol as the potential heir to his father’s claim to the leadership of the North Korean people.
Kim Jong-nam ‘is not dead’ says North Korea
An unofficial spokesman for Pyongyang based in Japan claimed Kim Jong-nam was not dead and reports of his assassination are a plot to discredit North Korea and deflect attention from political unrest in South Korea.
Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Centre for North Korea-US Peace, told The Telegraph on Wednesday that the man killed in Kuala Lumpur on Monday is not the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
“That is not him and it is not a relative of Kim Jong-un”, he said. “If you listen to his accent, it is clearly South Korean and this is all a red herring.”
Kim Myong-chol claims that an imposter has been playing the part of Kim Jong-nam for several years at the behest of South Korea.
“This is all being done to divert attention from the impeachment of the South Korean president and to discredit North Korea”, he said. “It’s a plot and it’s nothing new from the South Korean government”.
South Korean spies says Kim Jong-nam poisoned by female assassins
Lawmakers in Seoul had said earlier that South Korea’s spy agency suspects two female North Korean agents assassinated Mr Kim.