Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong UnReuters

Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who was killed in Malaysia in 2017, had been an informant for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The report cited a person knowledgeable about the matter who said many details of Kim Jong Nam’s relationship with the CIA remained unclear.

Reuters, which reported on the Wall Street Journal story, could not independently confirm the story. The CIA declined to comment.

The Journal quoted the anonymous source as saying “There was a nexus” between the CIA and Kim Jong Nam.

“Several former US officials said the half brother, who had lived outside of North Korea for many years and had no known power base in Pyongyang, was unlikely to be able to provide details of the secretive country’s inner workings,” the Journal said.

The former officials also said Kim Jong Nam had been almost certainly in contact with security services of other countries, particularly China’s, the Journal said.

South Korean and US officials have said the North Korean authorities had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family’s dynastic rule. Pyongyang has denied the allegation.

Two women were charged with poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Malaysia released the two in March.

The source who spoke to the Wall Street Journal said Kim Jong Nam had traveled to Malaysia in February 2017 to meet his CIA contact, although that may not have been the sole purpose of the trip.

US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have met twice over the past year in an attempt to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump abruptly ended the second summit with Kim in the capital of Vietnam at the end of February, explaining that, while "we had a productive time," no deal was signed.

Trump’s move came just after Kim indicated he was ready for denuclearization, telling reporters that he would not have come to the summit in Vietnam if he was not prepared to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Despite the breakdown of the summit, North Korean media later indicated that Kim and Trump had decided to continue productive talks to resolve problems discussed at their Hanoi summit.