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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has said Malaysian Police are seeking a staff member of North Korea’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur and an employee of Air Koryo for questioning over last week’s murder of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong Un.
At a press conference held at 11am Malaysia time, the Malaysian police chief said that four of several other North Korean suspects are believed to have already returned to Pyongyang, and that the police had requested that North Korea extradite them to Malaysia.
“We believe that they are heavily involved, so that’s why I requested the North Korean Embassy assist us to trace and hand them over to us,” he said. “We are doing the very fair investigation, so they should assist us.”
Khalid named 44-year-old Hyon Kwang Song, who worked as a second secretary at the DPRK Embassy in Malaysia and 37-year-old Kim Uk Il, a member of staff of the North Korean national airliner Air Koryo, as being wanted for questioning to assist in the investigation. The two are said to have entered Malaysia on September 20 last year and January 29 respectively.
Hyon and Kim were mentioned in Sunday’s news conference, but police didn’t reveal their identity. Malaysian Police called for Hong and Kim to hand themselves in for questioning on Wednesday.
“We submitted the request today,” Khalid told media. “If they refuse to cooperate, then we will issue warrants of arrest on both of them.”
Malaysian police on Sunday named four more North Korean suspects alleged to have been directly involved in the murder – four suspects believed to have fled Malaysia on February 13 – and showed pictures of the men now known to be Hyon Kwang Song and Kim Uk Il.
Malaysian police said on Wednesday they are pursuing a fifth suspect, 30-year-old Ri Ji U, with police saying he is still in Malaysia. Malaysian police on Sunday named Ri, who allegedly also goes by the name of James, as being wanted for questioning to “assist in the investigation”.
Police also denied media reports that the 25-year-old Indonesian suspect, Siti Aishah, thought she was taking part in a prank, with the police chief said it was clearly a “planned” crime and that both female suspects knew the liquid they were carrying was toxic and poisonous.
“These two ladies were trained to swab the deceased’s face,” Khalid told media. “…this is not something just like shooting a movie and a play thing. No way.”
“I think you have seen the video, right? The lady was moving away with her hands towards the bathroom. She was very aware that it was toxic and that she needed to wash her hands,” Khalid said adding Siti Aishah and 28-year-old Doan Thi Huong “used their bare hands.”
The police chief also revealed the four suspects believed to be back in Pyongyang gave a liquid substance to Aishah and Huong.
Police have still not identified the poison used during the incident, he added.
The police chief dismissed earlier media reports that the late Kim Jong Nam’s son, Kim Han Sol, had arrived in Kuala Lumpur, saying that no next of kin had come forward to claim the body, saying “Those are all rumors.”
“We have requested to the North Korean Embassy to contact the family members for us,” Khalid said.
Kim Han Sol, the eldest son of Kim Jong Nam, supposedly arrived in Malaysia on Monday evening amid a growing diplomatic row between Malaysia and North Korea over Kim’s body and the course of the investigation into his death. North Korea has demanded that Malaysia
North Korea has demanded that Malaysia return the body immediately, and has accused Kuala Lumpur of working with the DPRK’s enemies to “defame” the country.
The Royal Malaysia Police has stuck to their position that DNA from Kim’s family should be obtained to identify Kim’s body.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police said on Sunday that Kim’s family members must come to Malaysia to receive the body of Kim Jong Nam and gave a deadline of “two weeks”, saying they would “look for the next option” if family members didn’t show up.
Despite Malaysian Police saying that Kim’s next of kin had “priority” to claim the body, North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol demanded on Monday that Malaysian police return the body of the man believed to be Kim Jong Nam to DPRK representatives.
Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, the Director General of Health at the Malaysian Health Ministry, said on Tuesday that no next of kin had submitted DNA samples to the Malaysian investigative authorities.
In response to North Korean requests on Monday that Malaysia allow North Korea to participate in a joint investigation, Rashid insisted that “it is our jurisdiction” and that all investigative work would be carried out by local authorities.
Featured Image: Polis Diraja Malaysia (Royal Malaysia Police), Uploaded on February 22