The Times (£) on the assassination of Kim Jong-nam:
Female spies are suspected of assassinating the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-un by spraying poison in his face at one of Asia’s busiest airports.
Kim Jong-nam, 45, an outspoken critic of the North Korean regime and its supreme leader, died on the way to hospital after the attack at Kuala Lumpur international airport, Malaysia, on Monday morning.
But that's not right. Calling the man an "outspoken critic of the North Korean regime" is playing Pyongyang's game, making out that the man was a thorn in the side of his half-brother, and that his killing was therefore in some way justifiable in a crude realpolitik kind of way.
Poor Kim Jong-nam was quite clearly a man who just wanted to be left alone to get on with his life. Yes, when pressed he was quoted as saying that the North Korean system needed some China-style reform, and that he thought his half-brother lacked leadership qualities. He also said that he had absolutely no interest in assuming the leadership himself.
He was, in other words, no threat whatsoever to Kim Jong-un.
Look at him:
A man so normal-looking, so inoffensive, that you wouldn't give him a second glance.
Compared to his young power-besotted half-brother:
Certainly, as the South Korean president-elect said, this shows North Korea's "brutality and inhumane nature". The Kim Jong-un regime is a stain on our common humanity.
But this looks to me less like some kind of clinical blow at an outspoken critic of the regime than a reminder of the obsession with the Mount Paektu (or Baekdu) bloodline. A man as ordinary as Kim Jong-nam is a living refutation of that idea of the sacred blood of the glorious Kim dynasty which supposedly justifies their continued rule.
That's why he had to be killed.