South Korea assumes that North Korea is behind Kim Jong Nam’s death. The investigation by the relevant authorities in Malaysia is still ongoing.
Must answer questions: North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol in Malaysia Photo: reuters
The mysterious death of the older half-brother of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un is causing diplomatic tensions between Malaysia and North Korea. A week after the suspected poison attack on Kim Jong Nam in Kuala Lumpur airport, Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned North Korea’s ambassador. The envoy, Kang Chol, was said to have suggested that the government in Kuala Lumpur had "something to hide" in the case and was colluding with outside forces, the ministry said. Malaysia also recalled its own ambassador from Pyongyang.
At a press conference on Friday, Kang had strongly criticized the Malaysian government for its actions in the case. He said Pyongyang would not accept the result of an autopsy conducted without its consent. North Korea also demanded that Malaysian authorities hand over the body. Following the incident, suspicion continues to be directed at North Korea, whose ruler is known for brutal actions.
Kim Jong Nam was reportedly sprayed with a toxic substance at the airport last Monday. The 45-year-old died shortly after on his way to the hospital.
Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV released surveillance camera footage purporting to show the incident. The video shows a man entering the airport and looking at a display panel. Shortly after, two women approach him. One grabs his head with her hands from behind before the two move away.
Was Kim Jong Nam a threat to Kim Jong Un?
Police arrested four people in the case so far, carrying papers from North Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. They include the two women suspected of assaulting Kim in the airport terminal. The women are speculated to be agents of North Korean intelligence.
South Korea’s government, meanwhile, reinforced the accusation that the communist regime in Pyongyang was behind Kim Jong Nam’s death. Asked about the motives, Defense Minister Han Min Koo told a parliamentary committee that the half-brother may have posed a threat to Kim Jong Un’s rule, according to the national news agency.
"The assassination of Kim Jong Nam by North Korea may have served to eliminate alternatives to Kim Jong Un’s regime," Han speculated, according to the report. Pyongyang may also have issued an external warning signal to "refugees and dissidents" from its own country.
Kim Jong Nam – the firstborn son of former dictator Kim Jong Il – was once considered to be his successor. However, he fell out of favor during Kim Jong Il’s lifetime. After his death in December 2011, his younger son Kim Jong Un ascended to the top of the communist state. Since then, Kim Jong Nam has spent most of his time living abroad. On several occasions, he has been critical of the situation in his homeland, the last communist dynasty. However, he was not considered an opponent of the regime.