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NK leader may have been jealous of elder half-brother

One of the likely reasons for the assassination of Kim Jong-nam was that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was both afraid and jealous of his 46-year-old elder half-brother.

The assassinated Kim had once been considered a plausible heir to the late Kim Jong-il, son of the regime founder Kim Il-sung. It was his outspoken attitude and resistance to the hereditary power succession which ruled him out as leader, giving way to his younger half-brother Jong-un.
Kim Jong-un(L), Kim Jong-nam(R) (Yonhap)
Kim Jong-un(L), Kim Jong-nam(R) (Yonhap)

Until he was ousted, however, the elder Kim was deemed the most cherished son of the late state leader. He was also the first-born of his father’s second wife Song Hye-rim, a former movie star who is said to have been the favorite of his three spouses.

As the younger son of Korean-Japanese dancer Koh Young-hee -- whose background is considered rather humble compared to Song’s -- Kim Jong-un has often been reported to keep a jealous watch over his half-brother.

The latter not only had the full support of Jang Song-thaek, the once-powerful but now executed uncle of the incumbent leader, but also was deemed a “more rightful heir” to power due to his mother’s reputed background.

This tension also explains the repeated attempts to have the elder Kim killed over the past years.

Kim Jong-nam’s mother, Song, who was married to someone else at the time she met Kim Jong-il, was forced by the Kim family to leave North Korea in 1974. She spent the rest of her life in Moscow, Russia, where she died alone in 2002.

Korea Herald daum