* Kim Jong Nam died on way to hospital from Kuala Lumpur
* U.S. government sources suspect assassinated by N.Korean
* South Korea TV channel report poisoned with needle
* Channel says two suspected female agents fled in taxi
(Recasts, adds details)
SEOUL/KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 South Korea said on
Wednesday it believed the half-brother of North Korean leader
Kim Jong Un had been murdered, as Malaysian authorities moved
the body to another hospital for an autopsy to identify the
cause of death, sources told Reuters.
U.S. government sources told Reuters they believed that Kim
Jong Nam, who according to Malaysian police died on Monday on
his way to hospital from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, had
been murdered, possibly poisoned, by North Korean agents.
Kim Jong Nam had spoken out publicly against his family's
dynastic control of the isolated state and was estranged from
the young North Korean leader.
"If the murder of Kim Jong Nam was confirmed to be committed
by the North Korean regime, that would clearly depict the
brutality and inhumanity of the Kim Jong Un regime," South
Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, the country's acting
president, told a security council meeting.
South Korea is acutely sensitive to any sign of potential
instability in North Korea, and is still technically in a state
of war with its impoverished and nuclear-armed neighbour.
TICKET TO MACAU
Malaysian police said the dead man, 46, held a passport
under the name Kim Chol. Kim Jong Nam was known to spend a
significant amount of time outside North Korea, and has been
caught in the past using forged travel documents.
Malaysian police official Fadzil Ahmat said on Tuesday the
cause of Kim's death was not yet known, and that a post-mortem
would be carried out. Kim had been planning to travel to Macau
on Monday when he fell ill at KLIA's low-cost terminal, Fadzil
South Korea's intelligence agency said Kim's family was in
Macau, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.
Asked during a news briefing if the murder of Kim Jong Nam
was confirmed, South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong
Joon-hee said: "Yes, I have said it is confirmed."
South Korea's TV Chosun, a cable-TV network, cited multiple
South Korean government sources saying that Kim had been
poisoned with a needle by two women believed to be North Korean
operatives who fled in a taxi.
Reuters could not independently confirm those details.
The North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur would not speak to
reporters gathered outside its gate and refused them entry. A
few cars were seen leaving the embassy.
South Korea's Unification Ministry urged North Korean
defectors in South Korea and abroad to be mindful of their
(Reporting by Ju-min Park, Cynthia Kim and Hyunjoo Jin in SEOUL
and Joseph Sipalan in KUALA LUMPUR; Writing by Tony Munroe;
Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)