Kim Jong Nam, the brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, was assassinated in Malaysia, a potential sign of the North Korean regime’s wide reach.
Nam’s killing certainly seemed thought out. He was killed by two women who administered a poison needle and then quickly fled the scene in a taxi.
Nam was the half-brother of the North Korean leader, and had once been seen as the next in line for power when Kim Jong Il died.
According to Reuters, US officials strongly believe North Korea was responsible for the killing of Nam.
That wouldn’t be a big surprise, as Kim Jong Un has executed numerous top regime officials, including his uncle in 2013. His ruthless consolidation of power has depended in large part upon creating a climate of fear rivalling anything his father had put in place.
In 2014, Un conducted a purge, killing 50 officials. One of them was executed in quite dramatic fashion – being shot with a massive anti-aircraft gun.
Assassination shows regime’s wide-reach
It’s tempting to see North Korea as just a dysfunctional authoritarian-communist state that talks big but can’t back it up.
However, North Korea’s entire society is geared around protecting the power of the regime, and it has become exceedingly effective at that singular task. Feeding their people and allowing even a hint of freedom? Not so much.
Some speculate that the killing is to lower the risk of a potential coup. With Nam out there, many could still hope for a figurehead successor if Un was removed. With Nam gone from the scene, Un may be able to consolidate his power even further.
The timing of Nam’s killing could also be related to the new Trump Administration, as North Korea may be testing the reaction of the US government. They have already done so by testing a ballistic missile, and could be hoping to catch the US off guard.
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