Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader, ‘was a CIA informant’

There was a ‘nexus’ between Kim, who was assassinated in 2017, and US intelligence agency, WSJ reports

Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Tue 11 Jun 2019 08.44 BST

Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korea’s leader, met CIA operatives, the Wall Street Journal has claimed. Photograph: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was a CIA informant before he was assassinated in Malaysia in 2017, a report has claimed.

Citing an unnamed “person knowledgeable about the matter”, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday “there was a nexus” between Kim Jong-nam and the CIA, adding that many details of his relationship with the agency remained unclear.

According to the Journal’s source, Kim travelled to Malaysia in February 2017 to meet his CIA contact, although that may not have been the sole purpose of his trip.

But the newspaper said Kim, who was once considered the favourite to succeed his father, Kim Jong-il, as leader but fell out of favour, was probably unable to shed much light on the regime’s internal politics.

“Several former US officials said the half brother, who had lived outside of North Korea for many years and had no known power base in Pyongyang, was unlikely to be able to provide details of the secretive country’s inner workings,” it said.

The officials told the newspaper that Kim had almost certainly been in contact with the security services of other countries, including China.

Two women were charged with poisoning Kim Jong-nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Malaysia released Indonesian Siti Aisyah in March and Doan Thi Huong, who is Vietnamese, in May.


The Journal’s claims could not independently confirmed. But Anna Fifield, the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Beijing, said in her new book, The Great Successor: “King Jong-nam became an informant for the CIA … His brother would have considered talking to American spies a treacherous act. But King Jong-nam provided information to them, usually meeting his handlers in Singapore or Malaysia.”

The book said security camera footage from Kim’s last trip to Malaysia showed him in a hotel lift with an Asian-looking man who was reported to be a US intelligence agent. It said Kim’s backpack contained $120,000 in cash, which could have been payment for intelligence-related activities, or earnings from his casino businesses.



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