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15 February 2017, 12:41 | Jamie Ballard
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Meanwhile, a slew of high-profile defections have raised questions about the stability of the regime.
Kim Jong Un's half-brother was reportedly killed this week in Malaysia. He was rumored to have worked in computing in North Korea and money laundering operations across Southeast Asia, according to the Post. Kim Jong Nam may have become more vulnerable as his defender in the North Korean hierarchy, Kim Kyong Hui - Kim Jong Un's aunt and the husband of his assassinated uncle, Jang Song Thaek - appears to have fallen from favor or died.
Kim Jong-nam had been living overseas for years after apparently falling out of favor with his father for attempting to enter Japan on a fake passport in 2001.
"We refer you to the Malaysian authorities", a department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency.
It later transpired he was never in the running to be leader.
After the birth of Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Nam told the reporter that he had lost the affection of his father, who diverted his devotion to his younger half-siblings.
"It seems probable that the motivation for the murder was a continuing sense of paranoia on the part of Kim Jong Un, which may be a well-placed paranoia", Tokola wrote in a commentary today.
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Kim, who is believed to have spent the past 15 years living in China and Macau, was once tipped to succeed Jong-il as the third member of the Kim dynasty to rule the authoritarian state. "But I presume there were internal reasons". But he grew up largely in secret, the result of founding president Kim Il Sung's disapproval of his son's relationship with Song. Earlier in the day, the police chief in charge of the airport, Assistant Commissioner Abdul Aziz Ali, had reported that Jong-nam, then unidentified, had died en route to hospital from the airport.
South Korea's presidential office said it had no plan to convene a National Security Council session as there is no unusual movement in North Korea.
He also frequented five-star hotels and upscale restaurants.
Kim Jong Un took over when Kim Jong Il died in 2011. Emails revealed in a 2012 book about Kim that he opposed North Korea's hereditary transfers of power and had doubts about his younger half-brother's ability to govern.
But all this changed after he was arrested at Narita airport in Tokyo in May 2001 after it emerged he was travelling to the country on a forged Dominican Republic passport using a Chinese alias of Pang Xiong. Jong Nam was also a strong advocate of nuclear disarmament-the precise opposite of Kim Jong Il's songun ("military first") ethos.
Jong-Un has been trying to strengthen his grip on power in the face of growing global pressure over his country's nuclear and missile programmes. Should anything happen to Kim Jong Un, however, there would be very few people who could take his place smoothly.
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