Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, waves after an interview with South Korean media representatives in Macau, back in 2010. Photo: AFP/Joongang Sunday

The estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been killed in Malaysia, a South Korean government source told Reuters on Tuesday.

Kim Jong-nam, the older half brother of the North Korean leader, was known to be based mostly outside of his home country.

Police in Malaysia told Reuters on Tuesday an unidentified North Korean man had died en route to hospital from Kuala Lumpur airport on Monday. Abdul Aziz Ali, police chief for the Sepang district, said the man’s identity had not been verified.

An employee in the emergency ward of Putrajaya hospital said a deceased Korean there was born in 1970 and surnamed Kim.

South Korea’s TV Chosun, a cable television network, said that Kim was poisoned at Kuala Lumpur airport by two women believed to be North Korean operatives, who were at large, citing multiple South Korean government sources.

The South Korean government source who spoke to Reuters did not immediately provide further details.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said it could not confirm the reports, and the country’s intelligence agency could not immediately be reached for comment.

In 2001, Kim Jong-nam was caught at an airport in Japan traveling on a fake passport, saying he had wanted visit Tokyo Disneyland.