Kim Jong Un's murdered half-brother accused of being a CIA informant

Was Kim Jong Un's brother a CIA informant?

There's a new theory surrounding the murder of Kim Jong Un's half-brother in a Malaysian airport. It may involve the CIA.

The 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the older half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, was recorded by security cameras. Two women came up behind him one at a time and rubbed chemicals over his face, which combined to make the deadly nerve agent VX.

At the time, it was assumed North Korea's ruthless leader had simply eliminated a potential rival. But now, the plot surrounding Kim Jong Nam has thickened.

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Kim Jong Nam, left, exiled half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. AP

"He seemed to be short on money in his final years, so he had been supplying information about North Korea to the CIA," said Anna Fifield, the Beijing bureau chief for The Washington Post.

Fifield has written a new book about Kim Jong Un. In it, she suggests that Kim Jong Nam, who spent most of his life living in exile outside North Korea, might actually have been returning from a meeting with his CIA handler when he was killed.  

"On the day he was killed, he was found with $120,000 in cash in his little backpack and so that may have been as a payment for his services," she said.

CBS News could not independently confirm Fifield's reporting and the CIA has no comment. So the bizarre life and death of Kim Jong Nam is likely to remain one of the many mysteries surrounding North Korea.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.