He then vanished, but was spotted in Singapore and Malaysia, where it was believed he lived.
Meanwhile, the South Korean news agency Chosun reported that Kim was killed with a poison needle, and other South Korean reports say that the murder was perpetrated by two female North Korean agents who fled the scene by taxi.
Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian, citing Selangor police chief Abdul Samah Mat, said a woman who appeared to be Korean threw a cloth over the victim's head at the airport.
The US government believes that Kim Jong-nam's death was likely the work of North Korean agents, a government source told Reuters on Tuesday.
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Kim Jong-Nam was once tipped to become the next Supreme leader of North Korea but instead, was rocketed to worldwide headlines after South Korean media reported that he had been killed in Malaysia in 2017.
South Korean experts on North Korean affairs reached a consensus that the assassination could not have occurred without the authorization and instruction of Kim Jong-un.
In previous years, Kim Jong Nam expressed disinterest in leading North Korea. He claimed he wanted "to visit Tokyo Disneyland".
South Korea's foreign ministry said it could not confirm the reports, and the country's intelligence agency did not respond to Reuters' request for comment.
Kim Jong-Nam is the son of Song Hye-Rim, a South Korean-born actress who is believed to have been a mistress of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. The major holiday this Thursday is called the "Day of the Shining Star" and will be feted with figure skating and synchronized swimming exhibitions, fireworks and mass rallies.
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Kim Jong-nam went to hiding in Malaysia after the execution of his uncle in December 2013, Jang Song-thaek.
However, Kim Jong Nam fell from favor with his father in 2001.
Kim Jong Nam spent large amounts of time outside North Korea.
North Korean state media reported that Kim Jong Un oversaw the test of its new, nuclear capable Pukguksong-2 missile, which it described as successful. Although there was scant evidence that Kim Jong Nam was plotting against the North Korean leader, he provided an alternative for North Koreans who would want to depose his brother.
Cheong Seong-Jang, senior researcher at Seoul's Sejong Institute think-tank, said Jong-Nam had been living in near-exile so it was unlikely that Jong-Un saw him as a potential competitor for power.
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One of the factors motivating Jong-nam's assassination, thus, could have been an expectation that he could be enticed to defect to South Korea. Journalist Jean Lee, a global fellow at the Wilson Center, tells All Things Considered that "Kim Chol" is a very common name in North Korea.