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N. Korean Leader's Estranged Half-Brother Died Within 20 Minutes of Attack

  • VOA News

Malaysian police say the older half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was killed on Feb.13, 2017, at the Kuala Lumpur airport by VX nerve agent.

Malaysian health authorities say Kim Jong Nam suffered a “very painful death” and was dead within 20 minutes of being attacked at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The older half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was killed February 13 at the Kuala Lumpur airport by VX nerve agent, police said.

“He died in the ambulance. He fainted in the clinic,” Health Minister S. Subramanian told reporters. “From the time of the onset [of the attack] he died within 15 to 20 minutes.

Police said he "felt like someone grabbed or held his face from behind."

A CCTV footage shows two women shoving something into Kim’s face.

A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam (circled in red) talking to airport staff, after being accosted by a woman in a white shirt, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, Feb. 13, 2017.
A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam (circled in red) talking to airport staff, after being accosted by a woman in a white shirt, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, Feb. 13, 2017.

Police have both females in custody as well as a North Korean man suspect of being behind the attack.

Seven other North Koreans have also being identified as suspects and are wanted for questioning.

Experts say VX is one of the deadliest chemical weapons created by man, and that just 10 milligrams of the nerve agent or a single drop is enough to kill in minutes.

“The absorption level was so rapid that within a few minutes the guy has symptoms,” Subramanian said.

According to the official, the nerve agent stops proper operation of an enzyme that works as the body’s “off switch” for muscles and glands.

If the switch does not work, then muscles and glands and regularly being stimulated, which can lead to inability to sustain breathing.

“The muscle goes into a state of permanent contraction," Subramanian said.

In Kim Jong Nam’ case, the dose was so high that the heart and lungs would have been promptly affected.

A hazmat crew scana the check-in kiosk machines at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang, Malaysia, Feb. 26, 2017.
A hazmat crew scana the check-in kiosk machines at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang, Malaysia, Feb. 26, 2017.

On Sunday, officials said the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was free of toxic substances, following a terminal-wide sweep for toxic chemicals.

One of the women arrested, an Indonesian national, said she thought she was taking part in a television prank show.

The other woman allegedly told a senior diplomat that she was paid about $90 to kill the exiled North Korean man, adding that she thought she was carrying baby oil.

Suspects Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong (top L), North Korean Ri Jong Chol (top R), Indonesian Siti Aisyah (bottom L) and Malaysian Muhammad Farid Bin Jallaludin (bottom R) are seen in this combination of undated handouts released by the Royal Malaysia Police to Reuters, Feb.19, 2017.
Suspects Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong (top L), North Korean Ri Jong Chol (top R), Indonesian Siti Aisyah (bottom L) and Malaysian Muhammad Farid Bin Jallaludin (bottom R) are seen in this combination of undated handouts released by the Royal Malaysia Police to Reuters, Feb.19, 2017.

Both insisted they were tricked, but authorities believe they knew what they were doing.

Kim Jong Nam was the older estranged brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.Kim Jong Nam was once considered the heir apparent to lead North Korea, but he fell out of favor with their father, the late dictator Kim Jong Il, after a failed 2001 attempt to enter Japan on a forged passport to visit Disneyland.

Since then, Kim Jong Nam had lived in virtual exile, primarily in the Chinese territory of Macau.

New book controversy

A new book by a Japanese journalist with the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper paints a grim picture of North Korea's future.

The book quotes Kim Jong Nam saying the North Korean regime is in danger of collapsing and that Kim Jong Un is nothing more than a figurehead.

Author Yoji Gomi said some of Kim Jong Nam's statements may reflect some jealousy, but that he believed they are also insightful.

Gomi said he met the elder son by chance at the airport in Beijing and has remained in contact with him. He said the book is based on several interviews in person and about 150 pieces of email.

The Associated Press quotes analysts as saying that Kim Jong Nam spent so much time outside his native land that his opinion carries little weight.

After the death of Kim Jong Il in December, North Korea's powerful military and its political leaders hastened to proclaim Kim Jong Un, the youngest of three sons, as his successor in 2011.

Since taking power, Kim Jong Un has executed or expelled numerous high-level government officials.They included his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, executed by an anti-aircraft gun.Jang Song Thaek was once considered the second most powerful man in North Korea.

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