Half brother to North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Nam was attacked in the shopping concourse of Kuala Lumpur’s airport on Monday. He approached an information desk to report he felt dizzy after being assaulted and was rushed to the hospital, but died on the way.
The Guardian reports that local police official Fadzil Ahmat said Kim Jong Nam described the assault to the info desk workers, saying it “felt like someone grabbed or held his face from behind.” Three people were arrested in connection with the attack, and one of them is alleging that she thought she was participating in a prank for a TV show.
Police General Tito Karnavian told reporters that the women were instructed to convince men to close their eyes, then spray water on them. One of the women arrested was a mother named Siti Aisyah, who had traveled from Indonesia for work. She told authorities she was paid to participate in the “prank”:
“Such an action was done three or four times and they were given a few dollars for it, and with the last target, Kim Jong-nam, allegedly there were dangerous materials in the sprayer,” Karnavian said. “She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents.”
The other two arrested were Aisyah’s boyfriend and an unnamed woman with a Vietnamese passport, according to CBS News. South Korea was quick to accuse North Korea of planning the murder of Kim Jong Nam, but has not shared any evidence. Kim Jong Nam had been on the outs with his half brother since 2001, when he was “caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport to visit Tokyo Disneyland.” He has also in the past been critical of the family’s regime and believed in “a democratic process,” according to Japanese journalist Yoji Gomi. Gomi told Yahoo News that Kim Jong Nam seemed to have anxiety about his family and North Korea:
“He must have been aware of the danger, but I believe he still wanted to convey his views to Pyongyang via the media,” Gomi said. “He was sweating all over his body, and seemed very uncomfortable when he responded to my questions. He was probably worried about the impact of his comments and expressions. The thought now gives me a pain in my heart.”
North Korean diplomats demanded Kim Jong Nam’s body, but didn’t file a formal complaint, so Malaysian authorities conducted an autopsy. He supposedly had several children, but none have come forward to claim him.