Earlier this week, Kim Jong Nam—son of the late Kim Jong Il, and half-brother to current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un—died suddenly in Malaysia, under suspicious circumstances. Several people have been arrested for potential involvement in Kim’s death, including two women who allegedly sprayed him with some kind of toxic liquid while he was in the Kuala Lumpur airport. Now, The Guardian reports on a possible motive for the two women’s attack: They thought they were on a TV prank show.
That’s per Indonesian national police chief Tito Karnavian, who said that 25-year-old Indonesian citizen Siti Aisyah had been told that she and another woman were being paid to play pranks on men as part of a show. The women were supposedly paid $100 to get men to close their eyes and then spray them with water; apparently, the last man was Kim, and the contents of the sprayer were switched out for something toxic.
This is some Looney Tunes level of cartoonish weirdness, obviously, but it’s not like there’s no precedent; ”fake prank show” wouldn’t look all that out of place among the 600 or so entries on the list of the ways the C.I.A. tried to kill or discredit Fidel Castro, which supposedly included poisoned cigars, exploding conch shells, and an attempt to assassinate his beard.
Kim was once the heir apparent to his father’s rule of North Korea, before being discredited in favor of his half-brother. (A failed trip to Tokyo Disneyland may have been involved.) He’s been an occasional critic of the North Korean regime, and his life has been considered to be in danger for many years. His death is currently causing a diplomatic struggle between North Korea and Malaysia—one of the few countries to have semi-normal relations with the reclusive Asian nation—as they argue about the decision to conduct an autopsy on Kim’s body. Besides the two woman, several men—including a North Korean citizen—have been arrested in connection with his death.