SEOUL • Mr Kim Jong Nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother who was killed in Malaysia, was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) informant, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported yesterday.
Citing "a person knowledgeable about the matter", it said that Mr Kim Jong Nam had met CIA operatives several times.
He died after having his face smeared with the outlawed VX nerve agent as he waited at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
The WSJ's source said there was a "nexus" between Mr Kim Jong Nam and the CIA, but many details of the link were unclear. The source said the late Mr Kim was in Malaysia to meet his CIA contact. He died after the poison attack on Feb 13, 2017.
Two women, one Vietnamese and one Indonesian, who were charged with the murder insisted they were tricked by North Korean agents into carrying out what they thought was a reality TV show prank.
Malaysian prosecutors eventually dropped the murder charges against them, with Indonesian Siti Aisyah released in March, and her Vietnamese co-accused Doan Thi Huong freed last month.
Pyongyang has denied Seoul's charges that it ordered the hit.
Once seen as leader Kim Jong Il's successor, Mr Kim Jong Nam apparently fell from grace after being deported from Japan in 2001 for trying to enter on a forged passport.
"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," the WSJ said.