The Slatest

North Korean Leader’s Half Brother Died After “Very Painful” 20 Minutes

A man believed to be Kim Jong-nam at Beijing’s international airport in 2007.

Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images

The half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was attacked with such a high dose of a toxic nerve agent that he was dead within 20 minutes. “VX only requires 10 milligrams to be absorbed into the system to be lethal, so I presume that the amount of dose that went in is more than that,” Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said at a news conference. “The doses were so high and it did it so fast and all over the body, so it would have affected his heart, it would have affected his lungs, it would have affected everything.” The huge amount of VX, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction, meant that symptoms appeared “within a few minutes” and he suffered a “very painful death” within 15 to 20 minutes.

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Kim Jong Nam, the estranged older brother of the autocratic North Korean leader, was attacked by two women at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13 who wiped a substance on his face and eyes. Malaysian authorities have revealed that substance was VX, which is banned under an international convention that North Korea has not signed. Security camera footage had already suggested the whole thing was rather qick considering Kim Jong Nam asked for medical help immediately after the attack. Authorities said he complained of dizziness and then died on the way to the hospital.

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Although Malaysia hasn’t directly pointed the finger at North Korea for the killing, authorities have said that four North Korean men gave the two women the poison to carry out the attack. The men escaped while the two women, one from Indonesia, the other from Vietnam, were arrested. The women, aged 25 and 28, have told officials from their respective embassies that they thought the whole thing was a prank for a reality show, a contention authorities reject, claiming the women were trained to wash their hands immediately after the attack. One of the women said she was paid the equivalent of $90 to carry out what she thought was a prank.  

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Malaysian officials said Sunday that they finished a sweep of the airport and didn’t find any traces of hazardous material.

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A man believed to be Kim Jong-nam, left, in 2001. Kim Jong-un, right, in Pyongyang, North Korea, on May 10.

Toshifumi Kitamura and Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

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