Murder in the family: Kim Jong-un’s thirst for power


On Feb. 13, Kim Jong-nam, the brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, was assassinated. His execution seemed to be quick, planned, and effective. Kim died at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia after coming in contact with a highly-toxic VX nerve agent. The attack was carried out by two women who forcefully held a cloth up to his face and mouth. It is suspected that this cloth was soaked in the nerve agent that killed Kim. An article posted by CNN states, “He died “within 15 to 20 minutes,” according to Malaysia’s health minister, Subramaniam Sathasivam. The suspiciousness of the incident points to his brother, Kim Jong-un, given his aggressive character and the choice of weapon.

VX is considered a weapon of mass destruction, as stated by the United Nations. It paralyzes the nervous system and suffocates the victim within half an hour, either through direct contact or inhalation. VX itself is a colorless, odorless liquid, similar to the consistency of motor oil, according to NPR. It is among the rarest and deadliest chemical weapons ever created. Because of the nature of the weapon, it is questionable why Jong-nam would be put to death so cruelly and painfully. There are other discrete weapons that don’t cause nearly as much suffering. He suffered a “very painful death,” according to Subramaniam. This means whoever did this must have a cold heart, and it could even be considered a crime of expression – a crime motivated by rage or extreme emotion. However, the person must’ve been sneaky about it, as it was a planned assassination. This raises the question, why be sneaky about it? Who is this person that can hire two hitmen? Also, who exactly has access to this rare poison? Well, North Korea does.

Because of its extremely harsh nature, the Chemicals Weapons Convention bans VX, – few states even possess it. But unlike most developed states, North Korea’s government has an active chemical weapons program, making them a very, very likely suspect in this assassination. And the person with connection to Kim Jong-nam as well as the entire state of North Korea is Kim Jong-un.

Kim Jong-un is known for his thirst for power in North Korea. It isn’t as if his power is limited, as is that of the U.S. president. Rather, he is a dictator, wanting complete and boundless control. We can see this from the propaganda that laces the streets of North Korea and the heavy internet censorship imposed on the citizens. With this in mind, it makes sense that Kim Jong-un would do whatever he needs to do to maintain power.

What’s scary is that a situation similar to Kim Jong-nam’s death has happened in the past; this time, it was Kim Jong-un’s uncle. According to the New York Times, Jang Song-thaek was convicted of treason and executed; it is speculated that he was “torn apart by ravenous dogs.” This puts a lot into perspective, considering Kim Jong-nam was exiled and openly didn’t agree with the current political regime of North Korea. It also makes sense that Kim Jong-un would order his death because Kim Jong-nam was actually the first in line to become ruler, but he didn’t want to; it may be sibling rivalry, which makes it surprising he even stayed alive this long. Scarily, he may have somehow expected a drastic measure like this. According to the South China Morning Post, he confided to friends that he “felt he was living on borrowed time.”

So if that isn’t enough to convince the public that Kim Jong-un’s power is overwhelming, I don’t know what is. Interfering with a state’s sovereignty is wrong, but a power hungry killing machine is also wrong.

What’s disturbing is the question of why these relatives are getting killed, and aren’t getting protection of any sort. It is clear at this point that Kim Jong-un will do anything he needs to in order to stay in power. It is also questionable why Kim Jong-nam seemingly predicted his own death, and how exactly he felt that way. From the looks of it, it seems that more relatives are going to be “mysteriously” killed. Something needs to be done to stop “mystery murders.” It isn’t a mystery anymore, it’s unjust, state-sponsored killing.

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