Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Nam may have played a significant role in the North Korean regime despite his status as an exile, according to a South Korean press report.
North Korean officials may also have been trying to persuade the older half-brother of Kim Jong Un to return to North Korea before his sudden death in Malaysia on Monday.
A source on North Korea told Yonhap news agency on Thursday, local time, the older Kim was in charge of managing the North Korean leader's inheritance money from his base in Macau.
Kim also oversaw a slush fund that belonged to Jang Song Thaek, the North Korean leader's uncle-in-law who was executed in December 2013.
According to Yonhap's source, Kim Jong Nam and his younger half-brother quarreled over the money prior to Kim's death, because the older Kim refused to return portions of the slush fund Kim Jong Un claimed as his own.
In the days leading up to the assassination, North Korea diplomats approached Kim Jong Nam in compliance with direct orders from Kim Jong Un, and urged the older Kim to repatriate to Pyongyang, according to a North Korean official who spoke to Radio Free Asia on the condition of anonymity.
"Kim Jong Un's order was for [Kim Jong Nam] to return home without causing a disturbance," the source said.
North Korean officials may have met with the older Kim on Jan. 20 in Macau, according to the report.
Kim Jong Un was concerned his half-brother would attempt to seek asylum in South Korea or the United States.
The alleged poisoning of Kim Jong Nam at a Kuala Lumpur airport is not the first time agents have attempted the assassination of Kim Jong Il's oldest son.
Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported on Thursday, local time, agents tried to kill Kim in Beijing in 2012.