Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who died last year aged 90, was known as the world's most frequent target of assassination attempts--reportedly more than 600, one of which involved cigars smeared with a deadly poison.

Other methods reportedly considered included lacing a drink with deadly bacteria and using a syringe shaped like a ballpoint pen.

Since the dawn of human history, attempts have been made to seize power by killing political enemies with poison.

The book "The Crime of Poison in the Middle Ages" by Franck Collard features a 14th-century Italian mural depicting a tyrant as the devil holding a cup of poison.

Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, was killed Feb. 13 at Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Did the assassins use needles, or a spray?

In 2012, Kim reportedly survived an assassination attempt by an alleged North Korean agent.

It is considered increasingly likely that his murder in Malaysia, too, was ordered by his half-brother, Kim Jong-un, the current leader of North Korea. Two women have been arrested so far on suspicion of involvement in the assassination. But how much truth will be revealed is anyone's guess.

The deceased Kim had many foreign acquaintances and sometimes spoke to reporters. An Asahi Shimbun journalist, who stayed in touch with him, said Kim's erudition was impressive. And Kim also had a sense of folksy humor to attach emoji to his texts, according to the Asahi reporter.

I mourn for Kim for his unjust and untimely death at the airport.

North Korea launched a new ballistic missile only days ago. Assuming Pyongyang was behind Kim's assassination, I wonder if the dictatorial regime's aim was to strike fear around the world.

But one thing we must refrain from is to be "poisoned" by these developments and lose our cool.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 17

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.