The alleged murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-um in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has created a rift between the two countries, with Malaysia’s diplomatic measures notched up against North Korea.
Kim Jong-nam died in mysterious circumstances at Kuala Lumpur airport last week, with police suspecting the real cause of death as poisoning. The Malaysian police are hunting for four more North Korean suspects in connection to Kim Jong-nam’s murder.
Malaysia has recalled its envoy Kang Chol from Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, and has called for the North Korean ambassador to probe into the matter. However, Kang Chol expressed his lack of trust in the Malaysian inquiry by saying that they have not been able to provide any substantial evidence on the cause of death.
Despite international speculation of North Korea’s role in the murder, there has been no convincing evidence and Pyongyang has not released any official statement till now. North Korea is also facing criticism from South Korea for orchestrating the murder and giving way for bolder terrorism.
The reason behind the diplomatic row
Malaysia was one of the few countries to have diplomatic relations with North Korea, but Kim Jong-nam’s murder has soured the relationship between the two countries. Malaysia has refused to agree to North Korea’s demands to release Jong’s body without conducting an autopsy. Malaysia considers North Korean envoy Mr Kang’s accusation “baseless” because it was Malaysia’s responsibility to investigate as the murder took place on Malaysian soil.
Malaysian authorities are waiting for the autopsy reports, the results of which are deemed to be rejected by North Korea’s officials because it was conducted in the absence of North Korean representatives. Malaysian police are now seeking DNA samples from Kim’s family members, who live in Macau and Beijing. However, if all avenues of DNA collection is exhausted, Malaysia would hand the body over to North Korea.
The suspects arrested
Two women, one Vietnamese and one Indonesian, were among the first suspects to be arrested. Siti Aisyah, the Indonesian woman, said that she had been paid to do this, which she thought was a joke. The suspects may be charged for murder.
Kim Jong-nam was the first son of Kim Jong-il, the former North Korean leader who died in 2011. Estranged from his family since the early 2000s, Kim lived most of the time in Singapore, Macau or mainland China.