Chinese authorities have reportedly blocked a plot from seven North Korean assassins to enter the country and kill Kim Han Sol, the son of Kim Jong Nam — Kim Jong Un's half brother who authorities allege was assassinated with a nerve agent at an airport in Malaysia.
An anonymous source told South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo that North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau dispatched seven assassins to kill the 22-year-old Kim Han Sol, but Chinese authorities apprehended two of them and held them for questioning.
The Kim dynasty has ruled North Korea for nearly 70 years, with Kim Jong Un most recently assuming power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. But Kim Jong Nam is Kim Jong Il's eldest son, and Kim Han Sol is Kim Jong Nam's eldest.
North Korea's "forever leader" Kim Il Sung still technically rules the country, and only men of the Kim family can hold power since his death. Kim Jong Un fears external and internal plots to assassinate him or topple him as the head of North Korea, and having living males in his family presents somewhat-viable avenues to achieve that without massive war.
Kim Jong Nam. Photo from The Asahi Shimbun.
After Kim Jong Nam's assassination, reports of a Chinese plot to replace Kim Jong Un with Kim Jong Nam surfaced. Kim Jong Un's uncle, who had deep ties to China, was himself killed by Kim Jong Un, reportedly in connection to this plot.
Kim Han Sol publicly spoke out against his uncle after the death of his father in a YouTube video where he called the North Korean leader a "dictator."
Currently, the US, China, and North Korea are in a standoff over North Korea's nuclear ambitions, with one of the potential US options for solving the crisis being regime change.