It looks like a perfectly staged assassination, straight out of the pages of a spy novel: Kim Jong Nam, the estranged, exiled half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, falls ill at a Malaysian airport, complains of being sprayed with some sort of chemical, and drops dead. But the unknowns currently far outweigh the certainties. South Korea's spy agency says two women believed to be North Korean agents attacked Kim. They then reportedly fled. Japanese media quoted the government in Tokyo as saying those women may now be dead, but this has yet to be confirmed. The New York Times reports one of the suspects was seen on CCTV wearing a shirt reading "LOL." To deepen the confusion, Malaysian police said Wednesday that they arrested a woman with Vietnamese travel documents at the airport in connection with Kim's death.
Her exact role wasn't immediately clear, reports the AP. As for why the Malaysian airport, there's this nugget from South Korea's spy agency: China had long protected Kim Jong Nam and his family in their home base of Macau, raising the potential Malaysia was seen as offering a security gap. That leaves motive: Without elaborating, South Korea's spy service told lawmakers Wednesday that the North had been trying to kill Kim Jong Nam for five years. Spy officials offered a single, shaky motive: Kim Jong Un's "paranoia" over his estranged half brother. Some in Seoul wonder if Kim Jong Un might have become enraged when a South Korean newspaper reported last week that Kim Jong Nam tried to defect to the South in 2012. (Read more Kim Jong Nam stories.)