Published 1:07 PM EDT Jun 11, 2019
Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korea’s leader who was murdered in a Malaysia airport two years ago, was a Central Intelligence Agency source who met on several occasions with agency operatives, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Journal, citing a "person knowledgeable about the matter," said Kim Jong Nam met with CIA agents on multiple occasions and also likely had a relationship with Chinese intelligence officials.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service and Unification Ministry said Tuesday it could not confirm the report. The CIA declined to comment on the matter when contacted by USA TODAY.
The Journal said Kim Jong Nam had traveled to Malaysia in February 2017 to meet his CIA contact. He was walking through the airport in Kuala Lumpur when he was attacked by two women who smeared VX nerve gas on his face.
The women were accused of colluding with a group of North Korean men who slipped out of Malaysia during the investigation. Charges ultimately were dropped against the women, who told authorities they were paid for what they believed was a stunt for a TV show.
U.S. and South Korean authorities have blamed North Korea for the murder, but Malaysia never made a formal finding on the matter.
Kim Jong Nam was the oldest son of Kim Jong Il, the despot leader of North Korea for 17 years until his death in 2011. Kim Jong Nam at one time was considered his father's likely successor before falling out of favor. In recent years he had developed a reputation for living a playboy lifestyle.
Reports of assassinations and purges are not uncommon in North Korea. Five officials were reportedly executed last month for their rolls in a failed summit between North Korea Leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump. Days later, however, senior official Kim Hyok Chol was shown in state media sitting near Kim at a concert.
Contributing: The Associated Press