Kim Jong Nam arrived in Malaysia, where he would later be killed by two women who maintain they thought they were pranking Nam for a reality TV show, on the same day as “a middle-aged Korea-American based in Bangkok,” the Asian news outlet reports.
On February 9, the two met, and Nam’s PC showed a record of a thumb drive being inserted, possibly to offload vital information to the US agent, according to the report. The report even includes a photo that purports to show the two meeting, though the US agent’s face is cropped out.
Just three days later, Nam was dead.
While reports of Nam’s life detail a gambler with no ambitions to rule North Korea, he still makes perfect sense as someone the US, and even China, would want to groom and leverage to possibly remove Kim Jong Un from power.
At just 30 or so years old, Kim Jong Un is set to lead North Korea for another three to five decades. While his leadership makes obvious its hostility to the US, he is also no fan of China.
Unlike his predecessors, Kim Jong Un has never visited Beijing nor had Chinese President Xi Jinping visit Pyongyang. Additionally, Kim Jong Un has had top officials with ties to China brutally assassinated with packs of dogs or anti-aircraft guns, according to reports.
As a result, China has little influence in North Korea today. Besides their trade relationship, the Chinese have few channels through which they can affect change in the Hermit Kingdom.
Through Kim’s violent purges of top officials, he has insulated himself from any outside influence, and is now on a direct course towards developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could eventually land a nuclear warhead on Washington DC. Experts tell Business Insider that this weapon could start being tested in as little as a few months.
Despite the concerted effort of the United States, it has made little progress in removing or reasoning with Kim. North Korea has been ruled by the Kim dynasty for decades, and is still technically under the rule of their “forever leader” Kim Il Sung.
Forcefully decapitating the Kim regime could lead to an exceptionally violent fight between the US and North Korea, in which 25 million North Koreans may be loyal enough to fight to the last man against what they see as US imperialism.
One possible silver bullet in this seemingly impossible solution would be to push another Kim, Kim Jong Nam, as the true leader of North Korea.
Chinese diplomats, through their limited contacts they have left in North Korea, could have possibly convince generals and senior officials to back Nam over Kim to initiate a coup. For China, that would have installed a favourable regime in North Korea without risking a huge refugee outpouring into their borders or a US-aligned democratic power.
For the US, they would have benefitted from the removal of the most dangerous man in the Pacific.
Whether he was interested in leading North Korea, Kim Jong Nam could have been a powerful point of leverage for the US and China to try to reel in a most dangerous regime. The fact that Nam reportedly met with a US agent very well could have served as a tipping point for the North, which then decided to kill him.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.