KUALA LUMPUR – Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, has been assassinated in Malaysia, according to reports in media.

Jong-nam, 45, is said to have been targeted at the Kuala Lumpur airport, the BBC reported quoting its South Korean and Malaysian sources.

Kim Jong-nam was the eldest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

According to a report from TV Chosun, a cable television network in South Korea, Mr Kim was killed with ‘poisoned needles’ at the airport by two women, believed to be North Korean operatives.

The two women escaped in a taxi and remain at large, according to the local TV.

In 2001, Mr Kim was caught trying to enter Japan using a false passport. He told officials that he was planning to visit Tokyo Disneyland.  He was quoted by Japanese media in 2011 as saying he opposed “dynastic succession”.

He was also quoted in a 2012 book as saying he believed his younger half-brother lacked leadership qualities, the succession would not work and that North Korea was unstable and needed Chinese-style economic reform.

Once seen as a likely successor to Kim Jong-il, he was thought to have fallen out of favor with his father over the incident. Bypassed in favour of his youngest half-brother for succession when their father died in 2011, Kim Jong-nam kept a low profile, spending most of his time overseas in Macau, Singapore and China.