China claims to have caught two North Korean spies sent to assassinate Kim Jong-un's nephew, Kim Han-sol. He is the eldest son of Kim Jong-nam, who was allegedly assassinated with nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur airport in February.

An anonymous source told South Korean news agency JoongAng Ilbo that seven North Korean spies were secretly sent to China to kill the 22-year-old.

The source said that North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau sent the group to Beijing where two were caught by Chinese authorities and are being questioned. It is unclear what happened to the other five.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service told the agency it had no knowledge of an assassination attempt.

The alleged attempt on Kim Han-sol's life comes as two female assassins stand trial for the murder of his father, Kim Jong-nam. They are accused of smearing VX nerve gas on the face of Kim Jong-un's half-brother at Kuala Lumpur airport in February. The women claim they were told they were carrying out a prank for a television show.

Kim Han Sol
North Korea family tree
South Koreans watch a television interview with a man claiming to be Kim Han-sol, Kim Jong-un's nephew and the son of the North Korean leader's half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, who is believed to have been assassinated by Pyongyang operatives in February 2017.

After his father's death, Kim Han-sol went into hiding with his mother and sister. His whereabouts is unknown.

A YouTube video emerged in March in which he confirmed his father's death and thanked those who had helped him escape, expressing his gratitude to the governments of China, the Netherlands, the United States and a fourth unnamed state.

Kim Han-sol left North Korea in the early 2000s, when his father fell out of favour with the regime and moved to Macau.

The 22-year-old has been vocal in highlighting his opposition to the regime in the past.

During an interview with a Finnish news channel in 2012, he referred to his uncle as a "dictator." At the time, he said he spent every summer in North Korea "to meet with my relatives and keep in touch with my family".

He said that he hoped to return permanently to his country of birth one day.

"I've always dreamed that one day I would go back and make things better, and make things easier for the people back there. I also dream of unification," he said.