Kim Jong-Un's half-brother was reportedly assassinated in Kuala Lumpur

Kim Jong-Un's half-brother was reportedly assassinated in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief Mohmad Salleh earlier told Channel NewsAsia that travel documents found on the man indicated he was Kim Jong Nam.

Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong Il and the leader's mistress, the actress Song Hye Rim, and was, for nearly a decade seen as the likely successor in the DPRK's hereditary political system.

North Korea began actively grooming Kim Jong Un as heir after his father had a stroke in 2008.

Kim Jong Nam gave occasional interviews to Japanese media. He was not. While it's not exactly clear what led him to be passed over for his younger brother, Kenji Fujimoto, a pseudonym for Kim Jong Il's personal sushi chef, later wrote in his memoir that the North Korean leader thought Kim Jong Chul was too effeminate.

Speculation quickly spread in South Korea on Tuesday that Kim Jong Un might be behind the reported death of his half brother.

This came within just days after former Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea, Jang Song-Thaek (who was married to Kim's aunt Kim Kyong-hui) was executed for corruption charges and what was called counter-revolutionary sympathies.

Ken Gause, a North Korea leadership expert at CNA, a research company in the United States, said there were at least three possible reasons Kim Jong Un would want to get rid of his half-brother.

Kim Jong-nam's death comes days after the regime came under renewed worldwide pressure following the test-launch of a medium-to-long-range ballistic missile to coincide with Donald Trump's summit with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe.

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Around 3,000 uniformed government officials and women in traditional dresses gathered for an ice skating gala featuring North Korean and foreign skaters. The Yonhap News Agency of South Korea also reported the assassination without any detail.

Kim was an overweight and careless playboy, but also a smart and open-minded man who was willing to speak out against the family, according to Yoji Gomi, the author of the 2012 book "My Father, Kim Jong Il, and Me", CNN reported.

In previous years, Kim Jong Nam expressed disinterest in leading North Korea.

It makes sense why people believe North Korea orchestrated this killing.

In October 2010, the day before Kim Jong Un was announced as their father's successor, Kim Jong Nam told Japan's Asahi TV that he was opposed to third-generation succession.

It could be that Kim Jong Un, who is only 33, was in the end stages of consolidating his leadership.

"It's always possible under a regime like this that - we saw this with the Nazis, or with Stalin - that an agency keen to prove its worth have done this even without an order from the leader in order to impress him", he said.