Chinese police have foiled a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's nephew, according to a South Korean report.
Mainstream daily JoongAng Ilbo reported yesterday that the police have arrested two North Korean agents allegedly tasked with tracking down Mr Kim Han Sol, 22, who has been in hiding since his father, Mr Kim Jong Nam, was murdered in Malaysia in February.
Seven agents from North Korean spy agency Reconnaissance General Bureau were dispatched to Beijing for the job, said the paper, citing an unnamed person familiar with North Korean affairs.
The Chinese authorities reportedly discovered the plot after increasing surveillance of North Korean activities within the country during its Communist Party's 19th congress from Oct 18 to 24. Investigations are ongoing, and those arrested are being held in a special facility on the outskirts of Beijing.
Mr Kim Han Sol, who grew up in Macau under Chinese protection as his father was in exile from North Korea, was last seen in March in a video posted on the website of humanitarian group Cheollima Civil Defence.
The organisation said it had relocated him and his family to safety, without revealing their whereabouts. But in a statement, the group thanked four countries, including China and the United States, for providing assistance.
Mr Kim Jong Nam, 45, died on Feb 13 after two women allegedly attacked him with the deadly VX nerve agent while he was waiting for his flight at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
The court trial for both women - Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28 - started early this month. They have pleaded not guilty.
The South Korean government believes the assassination of Mr Kim Jong Nam was ordered by Mr Kim Jong Un to get rid of a potential rival. Mr Kim Jong Nam, while living in exile for over a decade, had criticised his half-brother's leadership and the family's dynastic rule.
Mr Kim Han Sol has also criticised the Kim regime and many believe his bloodline made him a possible next target.