By Zhifan Yang || Staff Writer
On February 13, 2017, Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-un’s older paternal half-brother, was assassinated by two women at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia.
Kim was assassinated when he was waiting to check in for the flight return to Macau at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Two young women approached Kim. One of them wrapped her arm around Kim’s neck and the other one rubbed his face with her hands, dousing him with toxic liquid. According to the security tape, Kim initially wanted to go to the bathroom to wash his face but later on felt agonizing pain and turned to ask a flight crew for help. He died on the way from the airport to the hospital. By then, the two women had fled away by taxi.
The two women were arrested by Malaysian police. They were from Vietnam and Indonesia. They said that they were recruited, trained, and equipped for the task by four North Koreans who already fled the country.
On February 24, the Malaysian authorities said that Kim Jong Nam’s body was tested positive for the VX nerve agent, a dangerous and banned chemical substance listed as a chemical weapon under Chemical Weapons Convention.
Kim Jong-nam was the eldest son of Kim Jong-il, the former leader of North Korea. His mother Song Hye-rim was a North Korean actress and was not approved of by his grandfather Kim Il-sung. After Kim Il-sung’s death, Kim Jong-nam was well treated and once expected to become the leader of the country after his father. After he studied abroad in Switzerland, Japan, and Russia, he insisted on reform and market-opening as China had done, which might be one of the reasons why he was disliked by Kim Jong-il later. He lived in-between Beijing and Macau in around 2010. After his half-brother Kim Jong-un declared as the supreme leader of North Korea, he disappeared in Macau. According to South Korea news media, he had survived two assassination attempts before his death.
Countries have held different attitudes toward the assassination. South Korea and Japan have insisted since the very beginning that the man named Kim Chol (an alias often used by Kim Jong-nam) was Kim Jong-nam himself and that he was killed Kim Jong-un. They think the assassination is a way for Kim Jong-un to ensure the steadiness of his power before his next step of the nuclear research. Malaysia refused to allow North Korea officials to participate the process of the autopsy and said that they need to compare the DNA from dead man’s relatives before confirming his identity.
North Korea is dissatisfied with Malaysia and refuses to provide any information of “Kim Chol” and urges Malaysia to give the body to North Korea. According to the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, Pyongyang only knows that the dead is a man named Kim Chol from North Korea but not that it is Kim Jong-nam. Because the process of the autopsy is not monitored by North Korea, they would not trust the result by Malaysia. The United States and China have yet to release statements on the incident.
First-year Zhifan Yang is a staff writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.