As the two women who fatally poisoned Kim Jong Nam with a toxic nerve agent face the gallows in a Malaysian murder trial, Bloomberg is reporting that Chinese police have broken up a plot purportedly masterminded in North Korea whereby a group of men were dispatched to Beijing to murder Jong Nam’s son, 22-year-old Kim Han Sol, who is also the nephew of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Since taking the reins of the North Korean state following the death of his father in 2011, Jong Un has readily murdered members of his family to eliminate any potential challenges to his rule. Chinese police arrested two of seven North Korean agents suspected of involvement with the plot.
Jong Un executed his uncle Jang Song Thaek in 2013 on charges of graft and factionalism. Earlier this month, the leader promoted his 28-year-old sister to the ruling party’s political wing, bringing her closer to the center of power, Bloomberg reported.
Some agents are being interrogated in special facilities on the outskirts of Beijing, a South Korean newspaper reported without elaborating on whether the other five were arrested. China’s foreign ministry didn’t immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
Kim Han Sol identified himself as the son of Kim Jong Nam – who was poisoned in February during a brazen attack at Kuala Lumpur airport – in a YouTube video released earlier this year. Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
South Korean government officials have speculated that Kim Jong Un was behind the murder of his half-brother, a critic of his leadership who had lived outside the country for years. The Associated Press reported that attorneys in the trial of Jong Nam’s suspected assassins have sought to pin the blame for the assassination on four shadowy North Korean figures believed to have masterminded the murder plot.
Authorities in Malaysia said the two women charged with Kim Jong Nam’s murder used the chemical weapon VX in the attack, claiming they were trained to swipe the poison on the victim’s face and knew the substance was toxic. The pair have pleaded not guilty.